THE FUTURE OF COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS
What’s happening in the countryside
(Fifth Plaridel Lecture Given by Atty. Pachico A. Seares, 2008 Gawad Plaridel Awardee, on 04 July 2008, Friday,at the Cine Adarna, UP Film Institute, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City)
In 2001, PCIJ or the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalismasked me to write for its book “Investigating Local Governments” anarticle on “The Future of Community Newspapers.”During a gathering of Asian community editors sponsored by aGerman foundation in 1999, we tackled the same question: How muchlonger will community publications stay around?Earlier, in 1992, the Philippine Press Institute asked me to writeand deliver a seminar paper “Sun.Star: the Cebu Success Story.”Crispin Maslog later included that in his book “The Rise and Fall of Community Newspapers.” The book pretty much dwelt on what lay aheadfor community newspapers, many of which were then struggling for survival and some have long since fallen on the wayside.Last year, the Sun.Star board of directors, in an executive meeting with the paper’s editors, mulled theissue on the future of community papers and how Sun.Star will cope.It is not just a local concern. It is an issue in newsrooms and boardrooms all over the world. And it’s notonly community papers that worry over the problem of dwindling circulation, diminishing credibility, andincreasing threat from new media.The big papers based in country capitals are fretting if not jittery. Shouldn’t the much smaller localpapers in the countryside panic?VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS DR. AMELIA GUEVARA, CHANCELLOR DR. SERGIOCAO, COLLEGE OF MASS COMMUNICATIONS DEAN DR. ELENA PERNIA, COLLEGE OFCOMMUNICATIONS FORMER DEAN DR. NICANOR TIONGSON, FORMER PLARIDEL AWARDEES,EUGENIA DURAN APOSTOL, ROSA VILMA SANTOS, FIDELA ‘‘TIA DELY’ MAGPAYO, CECILIA ‘CHECHE’LAZARO, OTHER OFFICIALS AND MEMBERS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES SYSTEM,HONORED GUESTS, COLLEAGUES IN MEDIA, STUDENTS, FRIENDS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.I wish to greet family members who are here today: my wife, my daughter, and my two grandchildren,who have been patient in bearing with a full-time community journalist as head of the family.May I also reach out to those who are not here, community journalists all over the country whosecollective work has persuaded the University of the Philippines System—particularly the Gawad Plaridelorganizers led by UP College of Mass Communications under Dr. Elena Pernia—to consider community journalism as worthy of recognition too and to look beyond Manila to pick the awardee for this year.