SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – Philippine media should be independent in election reportage and strictly follow the professional standards of journalism so as not to court danger and be involved in controversies, according Alan Schroeder, a professor in the School of Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston, USA.

Schroeder was reacting to various issues and problems faced by media practitioners during elections as presented by 20 community journalists who attended a seminar on Election Reporting and Press Freedom held in Cebu City last Jan. 24-26.

“Be idealistic about the goals and roles of journalists, “Schroeder said. “Journalists have their professional endeavors and standards.”

“Even though we cannot always live by the standards, we need to try to achieve those standards,” Schroeder told this writer who was among the 20 journalists from all over the country that were selected to attend the event.

Schroeder said he was aware of the killings of journalists in the country and the violence against legitimate media persons who are
doing their work.

“Make your voice heard; you are living in a democracy and no democracy is perfect. You are exposed to challenges but, ultimately, it is the people who determine what kind of country they live in,” Schroeder said.

Seven journalists each from Mindanao and Luzon and six from the Visayas attended the seminar which included topics such as the

The Role of Media – discussed by Malou Mangahas, director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism; Reporting Under
Challenging Conditions: Journalists, Human Rights and Press Freedom by Rowena Paraan, former chair of the National Union of Journalist in the Philippines; and Environment for May 2016 Elections by Mahar Mangahas, president of the Social Weather Station.

Michael Angelo Dayao, alumnus of the US Program on Elections, shared his experience and lessons learned from the US presidential electionsthat pitted now President Barack Obama against Senator Mitt Romney. He also discussed about ‘Elections in the Digital Age.’

Atty. Rafael Olaño, Region 7 Director of the Commission on Elections, gave the overview of election laws and implementing guidelines while voter’s education was discussed by Marilu Chiongbian, executive director of Cebu Involvement and Maturation in People’s Empowerment and Liberation.

Atty. Frank Malilong, of the Cebu Press Council, also gave insights on Press Freedom and election- related violence like the Maguindanao Massacre in which 32 journalists were killed.

Carolyn Glassman, public affairs officer of the US Embassy in Manila, said she recognized the critical role of journalists especially in a democratic country like the Philippines.

“Your role is very critical in a democracy because you represent the people and serve as their voice. Your role by representing the public interest is not just during the time of elections but in your day-to-day coverage,” Glassman said.

The activity was the sixth regional seminar for selected journalists in the Philippines sponsored by the US Embassy. JUN ELIAS/