Cabaero: Why not regional media?

·2 min read

Incoming Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) chief Trixie Cruz-Angeles wants to accredit bloggers to cover Malacañang press briefings but makes no mention of access to be given to regional media.

Accreditation of bloggers by Malacañang was started during President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. But the last time access was granted to the press outside of the nation’s capital was during the time of Press Secretary Cerge Remonde.

Before the new PCOO chief starts on July 1, 2022, it is worth revisiting a truly inclusive policy that includes the community press and that also recognizes the role media in the provinces or regions play in nation-building and citizenship.

News organizations in the provinces may have their own reporters or correspondents or stringers in Metro Manila to report on matters, especially those affecting the people in their localities. They will benefit from an established link to Malacañang where they will be on equal footing with the national press in terms of access to information.

There were times during Duterte’s press briefings when journalists from the regions were invited to ask questions via Zoom but this did not happen on a regular basis. The last time a journalist from a community news organization was accredited as a Malacañang reporter was during the term of President Gloria Arroyo who had Remonde, a Cebuano media personality and formerly SunStar Cebu columnist, as press secretary.

After Remonde suddenly died on January 19, 2010, I wrote about how he knew how challenging it was to come from the peripherals and join the race for news at the capital. He then made sure those in the provinces had a connection to the seat of national power.

He accredited a SunStar reporter in Manila to join Malacañang beat journalists and gave our reporter access to the same information available to the national press. And it wasn’t only SunStar in Cebu he invited. He was fond of the community press in general.

Remonde leveled the playing field further when he provided our newsroom with advance copies of the State of the Nation Addresses so we, like journalists in Manila, could prepare for the coverage and decide beforehand on the focus.

He scolded me one time, playfully of course, when I did not visit him at his Malacañang office during a Manila trip. I didn’t think it was necessary because, with the access he institutionalized, there was no need for me to visit him. He made sure the link to Malacañang was there.

That was then.

Cruz-Angeles may want presidential press conferences to be more inclusive, thus her priority is to give accreditation to bloggers for Malacañang briefings. Bloggers operate individually and do not have the journalistic training or the newsroom. Community journalists are part of the structure found in news organizations where reports get verified and editors approved them before publication or uploading, and there was an organization to which a person aggrieved may seek redress.

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