There may always be repeated threats to quash free speech and the free press—whether we’re talking about shutting down the ABS-CBN franchise and leaving scores of workers jobless, or the repeated attempts to target Rappler’s Maria Ressa. Journalism is often a high stakes, unrewarding job in this country, and yet, our nation’s storytellers keep on keeping on.
“The independent press must wrest from [the president] the control of the narrative. Journalists must speak truths that the government would rather set aside just to save face,” goes the Editor’s Note in the latest issue of the Philippine Collegian, the official publication of the University of the Philippines Diliman. The words ring urgently true. After all, they come from the Collegian’s Special COVID-19 issue.
The issue clocks in at 48 pages, four times bigger than the issues the Collegian normally releases. It is filled with important stories and reportage related to the COVID-19 pandemic, from initiatives and policy decisions specific to U.P., to issues that affect different sectors on a national level.
One story presents a comprehensive timeline of human rights violations committed during quarantine. Another story highlights the predicament of street vendors trying to make a living in desolate cities, as many try their best to stay home. Another important piece in the issue contextualizes the pandemic by way of bringing up the Philippines’ arms deal with the United States.
Excellent design, artwork, and graphics fill the issue from cover to cover, and are enough to make any online writer and editor long for how the medium of print could serve others in these trying times.
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It shouldn’t be lost on anyone reading this that behind the issue are student journalists, no less. Many students within and outside of U.P. find themselves struggling against a dispassionate education system. And yet these young storytellers, who only get compensated with a humble honorarium that most often goes to work-related transpo and other expenses—unlike the average journalist working for a national broadsheet or online magazine, for example—are putting out material and reportage that rival the content of other publications.
“There is no point in reporting, after all, if we echo mere lies and state propaganda,” continues the Editor’s Note (this year’s EIC is Beatrice Puente). “This is no time to play safe—this is no time to falter.” Despite the threats, there will always be more voices crawling out the woodwork to speak truth to power, and as the Collegian has proven time and again, including and especially student journalists.
You can read The Philippine Collegian’s Special COVID-19 issue here.