President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has declared December, through Proclamation No. 1187 dated Dec. 7, 2006, as "National Press Congress Month and the Month of Community Press in the Service of the Nation" to be observed under the auspices of the Publishers Association of the Philippines Inc. (PAPI).
The proclamation is an unequivocal recognition by the President and this government of the potent and unifying role of the community press in building bridges of understanding with the people.
About time, community press practitioners might sigh. But, in a global environment, where exactly does the community press stand?
Cebuano historian Resil Mojares seems to have the perfect answer when he said that “the community press lives a very peripheral existence.”
It is understood to mean that, aside from being physically far from the nation’s capital, community or regional newspapers are generally less well-off than the national publications, they have limited resources and, in many cases, they are less able to cope with attacks on their ability to perform their work.
Yet, community newspapers have the wide-scope task of reporting information of great significance to a number of people. This is information not normally carried by the metropolitan newspapers.
In Tabuk alone, there are loads of news that people, including the reading public, are not aware of. Their preference for the national papers are quite understandable – one which has grown out of habit. But the national papers cannot address information needs specifically packaged for the local populace.
The book “Connecting with Communities: Public Journalism Experiments in the Philippines” lays down the painful truth on the community press’ uphill climb for recognition. It is a pioneering publication on how initial experiments on public journalism in the Philippines have challenged the community press to evolve new thinking about the craft. These experiments promote the idea that information provided by media and journalists should encourage citizens to find solutions facing local communities.
These are concerns that this paper has committed itself to address.
This month, as community papers across the nation are recognized for their contribution to rural development, GURU re-strengthens its role in Tabuk’s overall development process – and, therefore, we refuse to be seen as part of the periphery.