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Why I write books on PH mass media

/ 04:07 AM October 14, 2020

Since my first book, a history book, came off the press some 40 years ago in 1978, it has been my hope that more Filipino scholars would join me in turning out instructional books or textbooks for various courses in the Philippine mass communication curriculum. And I mean books, not instructional modules.

My first mass communication textbook came out in 1988, and I have revised it five times, the latest in 2015. But I regret that up until now, I still seem to be a voice in the wilderness. Textbook writing and publishing for college courses, particularly in mass communication, is still unpopular. There is no money in it.

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And with the advent of the digital age, with information only a click of the mouse away, the time may never come when textbooks on Philippine mass media or communication will be in demand.

And yet, there is a niche for it. Locally written textbooks for Philippine courses in communication will always be needed before they can be available on the internet. Otherwise what will be picked up by the search engines are disparate and random information coming from disorganized sources, local and foreign, that are not edited or vetted. There is no substitute for relevant, well-researched, well-organized, and well-written books on any particular subject, including mass communication.

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Take one of my favorite subjects for research—mass media history. We need more historical treatises that record our past. For a start, we need comprehensive and authoritative histories of Philippine traditional media and mass media.

It is unfortunate, even shameful, that the available histories of Philippine mass media have been written by foreigners — Wenceslao E. Retana’s “El Periodismo Filipino” (Journalism in the Philippines, 1811-1894); Carson Taylor’s “History of the Philippine Press” (1927); and John Lent’s “Philippine Mass Communication, Before 1811 After 1966” (Manila: Philippine Press Institute, 1966).

We need histories written by Filipinos — histories of the various mass media pioneers, such as the first English language newspapers (e.g., the Manila Bulletin and The Manila Times), the trailblazing community newspapers in Ilocos, Cebu, and Panay, the early Chinese press in the Philippines, the pioneering radio and television stations (like ABS-CBN and GMA) and news agencies (like the Philippine News Agency). Likewise with movie production companies and advertising and public relations agencies — Philippine Promotions (or PhilProm), for instance, the first Filipino advertising agency founded by the “dean” of Philippine advertising practitioners, Pedro E. Teodoro.

And we need biographies about the men and women who have come before us in the field of journalism (as our field was called in the old days) who can serve as models for our students. They are the pioneers and press freedom fighters who blazed paths for Philippine mass media, like the Roces family (Joaquin “Chino” Roces, Alejandro Roces Sr., and Ramon Roces), Robert McCulloch Dick, Teodoro M. Locsin Sr., Hans Menzi, and Eugenio Lopez Sr., to name just a few.

Some have won the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in Journalism and Communication Arts, among them Francisco Sionil Jose, Lino Brocka, Bienvenido Lumbera, Eugenia “Eggie” Apostol, Zacarias Sarian, Raul Locsin, Fr. James Reuter, Nick Joaquin, and Sheila Coronel.

We have numerous martyrs to press freedom among community journalists (because they were murdered while exposing corruption), among them Ermin Garcia Sr., Antonio Abad Tormis, Jacobo Amatong, and Marlene Garcia-Esperat.

We might add Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, and Benigno Aquino Jr. (as part-time journalists and part-time heroes), and Armando Malay, Maximo Soliven, Teodoro C. Benigno, Jose Luna Castro, Napoleon Rama, Florangel Rosario Braid, and Jose Burgos among the contemporary names.

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I am sure readers can add dozens of other names to this list. One of my latest books is about Charlie A. Agatep, the guru in the field of Philippine public relations. If no one writes about them today to be read by our students, their inspiring life stories will be lost to the dustbin of history.

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Crispin C. Maslog is a former journalist with Agence France-Presse and communication professor from UP Los Baños and Silliman. He has written 36 books on communication, journalism, and media education. Email [email protected]

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TAGS: Commentary, Crispin C. Maslog, Journalism, journalists, Mass media
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