The Iloilo media practitioners and stakeholders from the different sectors of society have come together for a novel effort: the establishment of the Iloilo Media-Citizen Council (IMCC), which will be formalized by an oathtaking of the members, and the release of the Western Visayas Journalists’ Guide on September 16, 2023, at the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) Auditorium in Iloilo City. Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, a UP Visayas alumnus, will lead the oath-taking and induction of IMCC members.
The event will highlight the day-long conference titled “Media Citizen Councils: For the Media and Citizens, By the Media and Citizens”, which will feature talks by Dr. Zoilo Andrada Jr., professor of media and communication studies at UP Visayas, and Dr. Gary Mariano, former chairman of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) and assistant professorial lecturer at De La Salle University. The conference is supported by PPI and International Media Support (IMS), and it will have a panel discussion on press freedom, media regulation under the second Marcos administration, and digital challenges and opportunities for community media.
Media Citizens Council Formation
The IMCC is a multisectoral initiative that aims to strengthen independent co-regulation of the media in the Philippines. Its members include leading publications, media, and blogger organizations in Iloilo, as well as representatives from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the academe, business, the church, and other sectors.
The council is “a multi-stakeholder organization that aims to foster a more harmonious and professional relationship between media and the Ilonggo community and perpetuate an expeditious, inexpensive, and fair resolution of controversies arising from journalistic practices,” said Francis Allan Angelo, IMCC interim chairperson.
The oathtaking of the members of the IMCC is the culmination of a series of activities, including workshops, consultations, and dialogues conducted over the past few months, which discussed the draft Code of Practice and Rules of Procedure.
The IMCC will present the draft operational frameworks for public feedback. Representatives from the Cebu Citizens Press Council, the Kordilyera Media-Citizen Council, and the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network will serve as reactors.
Angelo said the council’s rules of procedure on addressing complaints against member news organizations are limited to the tenets of fairness, accuracy, and protection of vulnerable sectors of society like women and children, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, and LGBTQ++ in news reportage.
Among the founding members representing local media are Panay News, Iloilo Metropolitan Times, Daily Guardian, Aksyon Radio, Bombo Radyo, RMN 774, dySI Super Radyo, and Iloilo Bloggers Society; UP Visayas and West Visayas State University from the academe; the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Iloilo Chapter) and Iloilo Business Club from the private sector; and also the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (Iloilo Chapter), the Commission of Human Rights-VI, iWrite of UP Visayas for youth, and the LGBTQ group.
The media-citizen council was established with the support of PPI, its partners, and several media practitioners and advocates who took part in the International Training Programme on Media Self-Regulation funded by the Swedish International Development Agency.
The event will also serve as the official launch of the Western Visayas Journalists’ Guide, which was developed to help local journalists address challenges and take advantage of opportunities presented by the growing digital landscape.
Iloilo Journalists’ Guide: Developed by IMCC and UPV’s Bantala Media Excellence Awards with the support of PPI and the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the guide contains topics on online reporting, safety and security, ethical considerations for multi-platform reporting, and newsroom practices.
The guide was an output of a seminar-workshop held in June this year and attended by media practitioners from Bacolod City, Aklan, Capiz, and the Province and the City of Iloilo.
The guide does not serve as an imposition, said Angelo, but rather as a useful companion that could help bolster or improve the respective codes of practice of independent news organizations and journalists.
PPI Executive Director Ariel Sebellino described the guideline as a groundbreaking effort by IMCC and Western Visayas journalists and educators.
“This is something worth emulating in other areas where they can craft their own journalism guidelines that suit their situation without compromising the basic principles of fairness and accuracy in news reporting,” Sebellino said.
The Media Council conference is also supported by Metro Pacific Iloilo Water, MERALCO PowerGen Corporation-Global Business Power, The Manila Times, and the Peace & Conflict Journalism Network (PECOJON).