MEDIA practitioners and various partners will formally launch the Iloilo Media-Citizen Council (IMCC) and the Western Visayas Journalists’ Guide at the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) in Iloilo on September 16, 2023.

Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, a UPV alumnus, will lead the oath-taking and induction of officers of the IMCC.

The oath-taking will be part of the day-long “Media Citizen Councils: For the Media and Citizens, By the Media and Citizens” conference, supported by the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) and International Media Support (IMS), to be held at the UPV auditorium.

The IMCC is a multisectoral initiative that aims to strengthen independent co-regulation of the media in the Philippines. Its members include leading publications and media organizations in Iloilo, as well as representatives from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the academe, business, church, and other sectors.

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 Swedish International Development Agency.

Francis Allan Angelo, IMCC interim chairperson, said 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.”

During the event, the IMCC will present its draft operational frameworks for public feedback. Representatives from the Cebu Citizens Press Council, 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 (women and children, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, and LGBTQ++) in news reportage.

The conference will also feature Dr. Zoilo Andrada Jr., professor of media and communication at UPV, and Dr. Gary Mariano, former PPI chairman and assistant professorial lecturer at the De La Salle University.

There will also be panel discussions on press freedom and media regulation under the second Marcos administration and digital challenges and opportunities for community media.

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.

Journalists’ Guide

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.

Developed by IMCC and UPV’s Bantala Media Excellence Awards, with the support from 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.

It was the output of a seminar-workshop attended by media practitioners from Aklan, Capiz, Iloilo City and province, and Bacolod City last June.

While it is not an imposition, Angelo said the guidelines could help bolster or improve the respective codes of practices of independent news organizations and journalists.

PPI Executive Director Ariel Sebellino described the guideline as a groundbreaking effort of IMCC and Western Visayas journalists and educators.

“This is something worth emulating by 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. (PR)