A MARSHALL McLuhan fellow said that these are challenging times for journalists.

"Given the recent events in the country, the media community indeed has received quite a beating. What with the start of President Duterte's administration, the ‘war on drugs’, and most recently, Presidential Communications Secretary Andanar claiming that some reporters have been paid while covering the press conference on self-confessed hitman SPO3 Arthur Lascañas, these are indeed challenging times for journalists," said reporter Gigi Grande in her speech.

Gigi graced this year's McLuhan Forum Series and talked about "Journalism in Challenging Times: Media as Guardians of Democracy and Watchdog of Society" at Liceo de Cagayan University, this city, February 22.

Grande of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation Investigative and Research Group is the 2016 awardee of the Marshall McLuhan Fellowship after her work on the pre-2016 poll campaign and the recent election period.

Grande said that next generation journalists should have critical analysis, research skills, courage, and principles in these times where fake news, alternative truths, trolls, and bad news is very rampant in society.

Grande explained the immense power that media has in the society and said that journalists have the capabilities of changing the mindset of the country's citizens as well as being trailblazers for change and awareness.

"One good example of this is the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam or PDAF recently which actually started because the media has uncovered it. I am proud that we [media] were able to do that and also to have the senate draft and amend some of our country's laws," she said.

She however reminded that journalists should not abuse this power to change and bring about awareness by selling their capability to expose or draft the truth.

"When I was only starting my career some would give me envelops of money and gifts but I would refuse them or send them back. Honestly I would get offended by those. As a journalist if you try to establish the image of being the kind that cannot be bought like that, they would sooner get that you cannot be paid. The key is to always stick to what you think is right," Grande explained.

"The gratitude that we, journalists, receive by being the deliverers of truth I think is enough. It doesn't matter if we really do not get paid very much and have to take on multiple jobs just to afford the luxuries that we want. This practice is not something you can force on someone but it is a calling that comes to those who are willing to take on the responsibility," she added.

This is the fifth time that Liceo de Cagayan University held the Marshall McLuhan Forum which is a forum series centering on responsible media practice. Every year, the university invites notable journalists in the country.

Local media practitioners, campus journalists, communication and journalism students and professors, as well as students of other fields such as International Studies and Political Science from various universities such as Xavier University, Liceo de Cagayan University, Phinma-Cagayan de Oro College, and Capitol University participated in the forum.

The Marshall McLuhan Fellowship was established by the McLuhan Program at the University of Toronto and the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines to recognize excellence in investigative journalism and aims to raise the bar on local journalism.