Press Freedom Week celebration goes online

THE local media community will hold a different Cebu Press Freedom Week (CPFW) celebration this year. All activities will be held online, or in virtual reality, to conform to the current situation amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

With modern technology playing an important role, what used to be an ordinary physical gathering will turn into a virtual celebration “praising the freedom the Filipino press has been privileged to embrace,” said Lucky Malicay, editor of The Freeman, one of the convenors of the 28th CPFW.

This year’s CPFW started on Sunday, Sept. 20, and will last until Sept. 26.

“This year’s online edition of the Cebu Press Freedom Week is a proof of our resilience. Despite the adversity, we are still capable of celebrating press freedom in the usual fashion,” he told SunStar Cebu.

Nini Cabaero, SunStar Cebu’s editor-in-chief, said despite the changes the Cebu media has faced and experienced, what remains the same is the need to reflect on what the media does and how and why the media does it.

She said the press plays an important role, especially during a pandemic when the public needs immediate and verified information.

“Let’s assess how we measure up to that expectation and, at the same time, remind the public that we need them to uphold press freedom and promote an informed citizenry,” she said.

Rev. Fr. Jonathan Rubin, in his homily for the mass on the opening day of the 28th CPFW held at the Sto. Niño Parish Church in Medellin, reminded the Cebu press that freedom should be coupled with responsibility.

Quoting Pope Francis, Rubin said the ultimate meaning of freedom is being able to choose good -- as a free person is the one who chooses what is good even if “it requires efforts” and even if “it is not easy.”

He also noted the impact of the ongoing pandemic on the world’s health and economy, including changes that the media industry has had to adopt to survive.

Despite these unfavorable consequences, he emphasized that now is the perfect time to kneel down and pray.

“Every time we kneel down as Christians and Catholics, we always have a choice. It is either to be desperate or to be hopeful,” he said.

Activities lined up for this year’s Cebu Press Freedom week include a webinar on “Digitalization and Cybersecurity” hosted by The Freeman and Bank of the Philippine Islands on Friday, Sept. 25, at 1:30 p.m. and the SunStar’s “Reaching Out to Future Journalists” forum on how journalists can maximize the use of digital platforms on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Fr. Robert “Bobby” Ebisa, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas Cebu chapter president, said the KBP month celebration this year might be postponed or cancelled because of the pandemic.

He said they have yet to decide on whether to conduct an online seminar about broadcasting in the time of pandemic since most of their member-stations are busy trying to make ends meet.

“In fact, during our meeting, someone said they have to retrench some employees because they’re suffering financially. They’ve had fewer ads because of the effect of the pandemic on business,” he said in a mix of Tagalog and English. (WBS)


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