Metrobank Foundation Journalists of the Year: Beacons of Our Times
The Ateneo de Manila University, through the Loyola Schools Department of Communication, hosted on Oct. 10, 2016 the 16th Metrobank Foundation Lecture Series in Journalism, organized by the Metrobank Foundation and Probe Media Foundation.
The annual series aims to share the stories of 3 chosen Philippine journalists whose works contributed to the development of the country.
The lectures were given by the 2015 Journalists of the Year (JOY) awardees: Nancy Carvajal (former journalist at the Philippine Daily Inquirer), Marites Vitug (Rappler Editor-at-Large) and Howie Severino (GMA Network Vice President for Professional Development and news anchor).
In his opening remarks, Metrobank Foundation President Chito Sobrepeña said that journalists were heroes whose quest for truth put a search light on the good and bad in society.
“Without them, we will be left in the dark, oblivious of the greater narrative of the intricate details in front of us,” he said. “It is our hope that through this lecture, you (students) will become more inspired to produce stories compelling enough to make the blind see, the voiceless heard and the disinterested to take action.”
Likewise, Probe Media Foundation Trustee, Twink Macaraig, said that the work of journalists is important because they tell the truth bravely, ethically and committedly—something that we need especially in the information landscape of today’s society.
To start the lecture, Carvajal emphasized the value of legwork and fact-checking in writing stories. “Journalism is not just having the nose for news. It’s mostly tedious gathering of information, vetting and perseverance, fact-checking and lots and lots of legwork,” she said.
She added that stories that turn out to be false could affect the people involved, as well as the writer and the media organization she represents. Carvajal is known for breaking the story on the pork barrel scam involving Janet Napoles and the bank transactions of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Vitug zoomed in on the core principles of journalism, such as maintaining loyalty to the citizens, sticking to facts and maintaining independence from sources, to name a few. As a young journalist, Vitug wrote articles on the Supreme Court and later on wrote a book called “Shame of Doubt” which tackled some secrets in the judiciary – which she called “the most opaque branch of government.” Its sequel is “Hour Before Dawn: The Fall and Uncertain Rise of the Philippine Supreme Court.”
“I was taught that our job was simply to inform people of the news of the day. As I matured in this profession, I’ve realized that we can do more than just that,” she said. “I think we can nudge our readers to take positions.”
Beyond reading news articles, she said, citizens should act. Their active engagement could drive away the shadow of doubt in the government and instead give way to light and brightness.
Finally, Severino encouraged the younger generation to develop solid values and principles. He told the students to be willing and brave enough to swim against the tide.
“This will help you develop depth and strength of character,” he said. “A lot of young people have the desire to serve and do something. So wherever you are, whatever you do, make it a better place.”
On behalf of University President Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin SJ, the Vice President for Social Development, Atty. Jaime Hofileña, said that the Ateneo was grateful to have 3 excellent journalists whose works were worthy of emulation.
“I would like to believe that what drives them in their search for truth is their love for the Philippines and the Filipino people,” he said. “In their hands, journalism is a powerful tool for positive social change and constructive growth.”
The Metrobank Foundation is the corporate social responsibility arm of the Metrobank Group that implements various programs in education, visual arts and healthcare. One of its flagship programs is the Search for Journalists of the Year (JOY). Awardees of JOY go around the country to give the lecture series, an event tied with Probe Media Foundation, a non-stock, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of media in the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific region.