A group of women in Cebu media who have retired from full-time reporting or editing for 30 or so years are returning to the industry but in a unique role and for a different purpose.
Women journalists under the group Stet held their first big event in a forum on “Community journalism today: Challenges and solutions” last Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, as part of the Cebu Press Freedom Week. It was the group’s first public forum after years of doing small, intimate, off-the-record conversations for their own pleasure.
This time, with most of them retired, they have the opportunity to organize discussions on media issues and concerns not only for their consumption but also open to journalists, students, teachers, government information officers, business leaders, and other stakeholders in the community.
The forum last Friday had as speakers Khin Thandar Htay, director for Southeast Asia, World Association of News Publishers-Women in News, Glenda Gloria, Rappler co-founder and executive editor, and Laure Beaufils, British Ambassador to the Philippines. They talked about the need to create safe spaces for journalists; sexual harassment and other threats faced by women journalists; media freedom, disinformation, and “fake news” allegations hurled against the press; the challenge of financial sustainability for news organizations; and the entry and use of artificial intelligence.
When Stet members were field reporters, editors, or television hosts, they held off-the-record sessions with news sources for context and background on news developments and to help with their reporting and understanding of what was unfolding. They held sessions with generals, military rebels, department secretaries, opposition leaders, senators, local officials, priests, and business captains. They promised confidentiality and assured news sources they only wanted a better grasp of what was unfolding in Cebu and the country.
With time for other pursuits, Stet members now plan to give back to the media industry by creating the space for discussions and holding training and mentoring. The mentoring of women journalists was informally started during Women’s Month last March and will be continued hopefully in a more structured manner.
Stet is a group of women journalists, active and retired, based in Cebu, Philippines. It was born in the mid-1980s, a volatile era that saw the overthrow of a Marcos dictatorship by a peaceful, pro-democracy “people power revolution” in EDSA and the shaky start of the Corazon Aquino presidency. These women journalists—some of them graduates of journalism programs of the country’s leading universities; energetic, and idealistic—quickly built reputations as serious journalists in Cebu. (Profile from www.facebook.com/StetCebu.)
The name “Stet” is not an acronym. It comes from the Latin word that means “Let it stand.” This proofreader mark in a manuscript is an instruction to keep the original text that had been altered or corrected.
Members of Stet are Edra Benedicto, Nini Cabaero, Atty. Piedad “Bingo” Ynclino-Gonzalez, Archt. Melva Rodriguez Java, Eileen Mangubat, Lelani Echaves-Paredes, Atty. Maria Jane Paredes, Thea Riñen, and Michelle So. They have or used to have affiliations with local, national, and international news organizations.