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The 8th Mindanao Media Summit and the 2013 Elections


Davao is hosting the 8th Mindanao Media Summit on January 25 and 26 this year, and that should be my last Philippine travel before heading back to the Land Down Under. (Historic Butuan should come before that, though, as I want to go back to Masao, for a cultural cum anthropological visit.)

What’s special about this summit?  We did not have any last year, following the issues and challenges that came about post-7th Mindanao Media Summit in 2011, which was held in General Santos City.

The conference theme is “Reporting and Monitoring Governance and the Elections 2013.” Keynoting the conference is Marshall McLuhan 2012 awardee Lynda Jumilla of ABS-CBN, who will discuss the role of media in the mid-term elections. Another speaker worth listening to is Vera Files’ Ellen Tordesillas, who shall discuss ‘Media Ethics in Covering the Campaign’.

With the energy crisis still unresolved across southern Philippines, I look forward to hearing updates on the Mindanao power situation from MINDA Assistant Secretary Romeo Montenegro.

This year’s Summit is expected to bring together some journalists and media stalwarts so to speak, to discuss the pivotal role of Mindanao media in the May polls. With the resource speakers as lead discussants, media representatives are expected to share inputs on the local political situation especially relative to the upcoming political exercise.

The theme is anchored on media’s ideal role and functionality as the supposed Fourth Estate—free, independent, objective, and devoid of any mark of political motivation nor attachment with any of the candidates. And this is a challenge, especially within the ranks of the Zamboanga City media where most are politically aligned with some candidates.

The annual Mindanao Media Summit is an initiative of MindaNews, for which I likewise write, and the Mindanao Media Forum. Themes have yearly varied to suit the professional demands of time—when professional issues are addressed by media practitioners themselves. Media ethics, accurate reportage, envelopmental journalism, priority reports as against marginalized stories, and media safety are among the top issues in the circle.

The Summits are really designed to be a convergence point for recognized Mindanao media practitioners and outlets. Sharing of best media practices is supposed to take place, allowing us practitioners from field to desk to have opportunities to learn from one another and grow. Those among us who have advanced in journalism learning, whether in theory and actual field practice, should not hesitate to share with budding reporters, and even would-be practitioners.  I remember one of my best mentors, The Bangkok Post editor-in-chief Pichai Chuensuksawadi, who taught me the value of sharing best lessons to those who are still making, if not grouping, their way to safe base in the practice, enough at least to where they may be held in high regard as journalists.

And the elections, especially in the Philippines, is always a good training ground for news reporters, where tests of faith, integrity, and credibility await them—us—all.

We sometimes find ourselves in awe when we face politicians, especially for the first time, and we feel the honor bestowed upon us when they pat us at our back, speak to us in a friendly manner pre- and post-interview.  That is fine, especially when the person has been our friend prior to his or her decision to be in politics.  We in media just should not be carried away, allowing our souls (and votes) to be sold. Let us keep our principles intact—at least, carrying through with our reportage this elections sans the biases and our favored opinions for a particular few. 

Our dignity may be up for grabs henceforth till the May 2013 elections, but it should never be for sale.  And that is the core reminder to all legitimate Mindanao media practitioners at the 8th Mindanao Media Summit.  (Frencie L. Carreon, La Chica Viajera, for Zamboanga Today)

By Frencie L. Carreon

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