Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Prowess in Pen: Journalistic Breakthroughs in Silliman

By Jan Andrei Elizalde | The Sillimanian Magazine

For regular students, Friday evenings are often spent partying with friends, crying to the last episode of whichever KDrama you find yourself binge watching, or simply catching up on a week’s worth of sleep. Campus journalists, however, occupy themselves on that day with yet another three-hour long meeting in a crammed newsroom arguing over what’s the next banner story.

Despite the burdens faced by these young scribes—such as the constant battle for press freedom in the Philippines, fulfilling their roles as watchdogs of their student governments, and the clash between student publications and university administrations—the passion and virtues they carry with each story they report is a stellar testament to their commitment in “holding the line.” 

Included in this story are a few of the Silliman University’s campus publications and literary organizations that truly defied the journalistic efforts regularly expected from them.

Differences made — the Weekly Sillimanian

Journalistic breakthroughs in Silliman largely center on the differences made by campus publications and literary organizations presented this academic year: integrating print and digital media, reviving old traditions, and introducing a whole new world of literary outputs. Such is the case of the Weekly Sillimanian (tWS).

For the past year, tWS made multiple blind bargains with hopes to achieve greater heights. According to Editor-in-Chief (EIC) Natania Shay Du, the publication expanded its content in order to keep up with the trends and demands of its audience.

 “To be concrete, our online breaking news content and special reports are a few of the things we introduced this year,” she said. 

One of the publication’s notable progress in pursuing such changes also include documentaries—such as the commemoration of Martial Law, the university’s unsung heroes and how they spend the holidays, a halloween special, and other topics relevant to the student body and university life. 

Moreover, Du revealed that tWS’ theme for the school year, “Disrupt,” is grounded on the publication’s desire to stir public consciousness and to truly inform the student body.

“When we did our evaluations from last year, we decided to disrupt because it’s more than just informing the student body; it’s disrupting the prevalent mindset,” she said. 

Revival in literature — Sands and Coral

Throughout the years, Dumaguete City has grown to become a hotspot for culture, literature, and art in the country. And residing within its borders is one of the oldest literary journals in the Philippines who truly stood the test of time when they revived its physical publishing after an 18-year hiatus: Sands and Coral.

According to Poetry and Non-fiction Editor Jireh Catacutan, the relaunching of the said journal  offered a new platform for students to express themselves through prose and poetry, and be a part of something bigger than themselves.

“Sifting through the various submissions for this year’s issue has given us the chance to

peek into the writing prowess of many students in the university. Since we intentionally refused

to put a theme this year, it helped us see the various genres and experiences that are unique

and could be considered modern literary voices,” Catacutan said.

Catacutan also revealed that plans of their physical release began with an archive project supervised by the english department which reflected copies of the Sands and Coral journal since its first issue in 1948. 

“After going through each issue, it reminded us how influential the journal was back in the day. We also discovered that every content reflected the issues and themes that were relevant during its year of publication,” he added. 

Moreover, Poetry and Non-fiction Editor Reya Grace Hinaut revealed that a large sum of their contributors hail from the senior high school department. 

“It’s wonderful to see that interest in writing has not diminished in the youth, and I hope that these authors continue to write, publish their works, and incite their peers to take interest in writing as well,” Grace said. 

When asked about their challenges, Grace raised their unfamiliarity with its budgeting, requisition slips, and printing matters—even making multiple trips to the business and finance office, the university press, and their department. But despite these trials, their editorial team pulled off its revival. 

“It was tiring, to say the least. But holding our prints at the end of it, we felt very much accomplished,” she added. 

An early start — the Junior Sillimanian

Situated across the tertiary departments is a fraction of the university that houses the future of many fields. Within its walls are a new generation of medical frontliners, business tycoons, and global leaders. Found inside its corridors also include tomorrow’s journalists: the Junior Sillimanian (tJS). 

One of the said publication’s many breakthroughs this year center on representing the university in press conferences and competitions. According to Editor-in-Chief Sander Keanly Dolino, the publication’s success during the annual Division Schools Press Conferences drew them more interest from the student body. 

“Following our wins, more people found an interest in the publication and our reach expanded […] Our endeavors brought lots of attention and support from students and teachers that the differences we made expanded further than it did before,” he said. 

Dolino also noted that training for the said competitions would span for several hours on almost a daily basis.

“I remember Silliman excused us from regular classes for an entire day just for us to train. These hours were spent writing an article, usually one per day, about a chosen topic by our trainers,” he added.

Moreover, Dolino revealed his hopes for the publication to “become more active, influential, and successful in Silliman” despite their academic obligations. 

“I look forward to my opportunities in the future for journalism, and I hope that the batches after me can experience the love and joy I had during my time in tJS,” he said.


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