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Our parochial Philippine press

/ 05:04 AM December 11, 2021

The Philippine press is one of the most parochial in this part of the world, particularly in comparison with those of our closest neighbors in Singapore and Hong Kong, and even with the media in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

We now exist in the age of CNN cable news and the internet, but our mass media have not learned to look beyond our short noses. We are so preoccupied with contemplating our own navels, especially now when national elections are once again heating up.

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Test my theory. Look at the headlines and opinion columns in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, and Manila Times yesterday. I bet there aren’t enough stories you can count on the fingers of one or even two hands that discuss non-local issues.

When the Philippine Press Institute and the Press Foundation of Asia were still active, we had press-owned and supported organizations that broadened our thoughts about what was happening beyond our shores. But when they unfortunately bowed out of existence, we became more myopic.

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Except occasionally when the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation gives those prestigious prizes to journalists and other heroes of society. Or when Rappler CEO Maria Ressa wins the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in journalism.

In 2015, the international Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC) moved its regional headquarters from Singapore to Manila without fanfare. This 50-year-old international organization of media professionals, researchers, and educators is headed by a Filipino secretary-general, Ramon G. Tuazon, former president of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) and now Unesco head-man for Southeast Asia.

The year that AMIC moved to Manila, it organized a national conference to critique the dirty language of President Duterte, and the results of that conference are enshrined in a book—“Deconstruct to Understand: Why President Duterte Speaks His Way.”

Despite its wide-ranging list of international activities in the field of journalism and mass communication, including the Asian Communication Awards, AMIC has not merited more than a few lines in the Manila media, other than occasional press releases.

At its most recent 28th International Conference which closed Dec. 4—a virtual three-day conference on science and the climate crisis attended by some 400 registered delegates from Asia and all over the world—AMIC gave two prestigious awards: the 2021 and 2020 AMIC Asia Communication Awards.

Professor Wimal Dissanayake (Ph.D., Cambridge University), a leading scholar of Asian cinema and Asian communication theory from Sri Lanka and the US, received the 2021 AMIC Asia Communication Award for Disruptive Inquiry.

Dasho (Sir) Kinley Dorji, a journalist/civic engagement advocate in Bhutan, received the 2020 AMIC Asia Communication Award for Transformative Leadership. He is the first formally trained journalist in Bhutan, having been sent by the country’s fourth king to study in Australia where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication from Charles Stuart University. He also earned a master’s in journalism from Columbia University in the US, and then was awarded the prestigious John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University for his work in media development in developing democracies.

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Two important books were also launched at the closing day of the conference: “AMIC: A History of the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre” edited by this writer; and “Communication Theory: The Asian Perspective (2nd edition),” edited by Wimal Dissanayake.

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Crispin C. Maslog is a former journalist for Agence France-Presse and professor of journalism at Silliman University and UP Los Baños.

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TAGS: Journalism, journalist, parochial, press
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