THE media’s new business model, post-pandemic economy, technology, and the government’s mobilization of laws and bureaucracy against the critical press are challenges currently faced by community journalism workers.
In a forum by Stet (Women in Cebu Media) held at Seda Hotel in Cebu City, on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, Rappler co-founder and executive editor Glenda Gloria emphasized the challenges that journalists of today’s generation are facing.
She highlighted the challenge for journalists today to adapt to a digital and social world and upgrade their skills, keeping the values they learn from the legacy media, and “unlearning the practices that make them cling to old glory and prevent them from growth.”
Technology and media industry’s economy
In her discussion, Gloria expounded on how the media industry’s business model has dramatically changed over recent decades.
She pointed out that advertising, circulation and viewership, which once fueled traditional media’s growth, have rapidly been replaced by social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube and TikTok.
These platforms not only draw traditional media’s audiences but also divert advertising revenue.
“Social media platforms have mastered the targeting of audiences, not just by knowing their habits, but by feeding our audiences whatever they want and what they like, and not what they need to become responsible citizens,” she said, noting how this is the reason why news is described as “toxic.”
She said the creator economy is real, adding that creators offer contents to the public that cannot be created by journalists due to their strict ethical standards.
Gloria then stressed how the new post-pandemic economy and the pandemic have taken a toll on the media industry, leading to closures and staff layoffs in community media across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
She recalled the shutdowns and layoffs experienced by reputable news outlets, leaving many skilled journalists in uncertainty.
The mainstream media’s capacity to absorb jobless reporters from previous decades has dwindled, said Gloria.
The veteran journalist cited the example of ABS-CBN’s workers who lost their jobs when the network ceased operations on May 5, 2020, after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order following the expiration of the network’s broadcast franchise.
Law and bureaucracy vs. critical media
Gloria also discussed how the government and people in power have weaponized and mobilized the law and bureaucracy against the critical press.
“And they will continue to do so, especially if we expose or scrutinize how they spend taxpayers’ money,” she said.
She reiterated the importance of helping defend press freedom, which has never been granted but earned.
“The fight for press freedom has become tough for now because the internet has opened too many highways of information for us. Too many choices for fun and entertainment; too many choices for realities, and they are drowning and diluting the work of journalism,” she said.
Amid these challenges, Gloria said modern journalists must understand their audience, utilize new platforms, and enhance their skills.
Journalists’ participation in online platforms to counter disinformation and misinformation is a crucial and worthwhile endeavor, she added.
The forum by Stet on Friday was in line with the week-long celebration of the 31st Cebu Press Freedom Week, which opened on Sunday, Sept. 17 and will end on Saturday, Sept. 23.