Thursday, April 18, 2024

Journalism puts ‘Filipino first’—Constantino

By Paul Ray Donaire and Genno Gabriel Rabaya | Marcg 21, 2024

Journalism is about what’s right for the country, said Karmina Constantino-Torres, ABS-CBN News Channel veteran journalist and anchor.

During the Silliman University College of Mass Communication (CMC) College Week last March 7, Constantino spoke to 108 students and local journalists at the Audiovisual Theater, Silliman University (SU).

As the 2022 Marshal McLuhan Forum fellow, she talked about freedom and the free press, specifically on the “role of the journalist in critical public discourse and in seeking accountability in a post-truth era in the Philippines.”

“Our job is to make sure that this power is used to benefit the majority and not the chosen few,” she said.

For more than 25 years, Constantino faced disputes with politicians due to her commitment to truthful reporting to the general public.

“Whether it’s a sitting official or one who wants to be one, our role as journalists is to remind them that they don’t have power over the people,” she said. 

Constantino said that upholding press freedom gives the people the right to ask and to be informed.

She also shared a snippet of her recent interview with House Majority Leader Manuel “Mannix” Dalipe of Zamboanga City’s 2nd District on charter change.

The video showed Constantino asking about the benefits of amending the constitution to support arts and cultural jobs. 

“And what was right in that situation is to show these lawmakers that they have to do right by the people, by at the very least, communicating well what it is that they’re supporting,” she said. 

Constantino noted that one should know what they are doing. However, she also stated, “But more than doing what is right, is knowing why you’re doing it.”

She recalled her experience during the 2022 elections when one presidential candidate texted her, asking “how loyal she was to another presidential candidate.”

“All I know is that I texted him back and said, ‘My loyalty is to [the] country and no one and nothing else,’” she said. 

Renz Macion, one of the reactors and a former Dumaguete City council member representing the Sangguniang Kabataan, said that the truth can be twisted by those who can control the narrative.

“So, it’s a challenge for us as advocates for truth to be equally strategic,” he said. 

Macion shared his experience visiting communities during the 2019 and 2022 elections where, according to him, people trusted social media influencers on TikTok and YouTube over traditional news sources.

“And it now appears na kami na yung hindi nagsasabi ng totoo (that we’re not the ones saying the truth),” he said. 

Meanwhile, mass communication student Grylle Adrian Malala expressed his persistence to pursue journalism despite the risk faced by media practitioners.

“Although with fear within, each sentiment ignited the burning passion of truth-telling in me. [The] talk wasn’t a mere talk but a lesson to carry along, the lesson of not backing down because, as journalists, we owe it to the people believing in us,” he said.

The Marshall McLuhan Forum was organized by co-partners SU-CMC and the Embassy of Canada. It has been established for almost 30 years. 

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