Campus journalism in our time

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    FOR young people who are aspiring to work in media as a stepping stone for even greater heights such as politics and business, campus journalism is the place to hone their skills. For those who, early in life, have resolved that their career path leads to professional media work, campus journalism is a must.

    This must be the reason why 29 years ago, the Congress and Malacañang passed into law the Campus Journalism Act: to institutionalize the conduct of campus newspapers, how these could better serve the students, the academic community and the nation. Should campus newspapers be totally free from editorial control by the schools, colleges and universities so that they can be the vanguard of press freedom in their little niches? Should these papers be financed by the government or by the students themselves? These basic questions should be included in the legislation.

    Agusan del Norte 1st district Rep. Lawrence Fortun believes that the Campus Journalism Act is archaic and dated, and much have happened in the last 30 years after its enactment.

    Thus, Fortun filed House Bill No. 7780, or the proposed law promoting and protecting the rights of student journalists and student publications, and seeking to repeal Republic Act 7079, otherwise known as the Campus Journalism Act of 1991. The lawmaker from Mindanao said the law only has “general and generic statements and lacked enforceable provisions needed to protect the guaranteed constitutional rights of student journalists.”

    ‘True, the Campus Journalism Act has become antiquated although the need for human communication and messaging is universal and near-eternal, at least as long as humans are in this planet.’

    Since editorial discretion and the newspaper’s existence depend on the publication’s finances, Fortun proposed funds of student publications in public schools be sourced from maintenance and operating expenses of the school, whereas in RA No.7079, the funding source is savings. He said the bill ensures that school journalists will have the funding and financial means to support a publication and safeguard editorial independence.

    Fortun’s bill “recognizes the paramount right of the freedom of expression of our youth by mandating that all educational institutions guarantee the existence of a student publication in their respective schools. It seeks to protect student journalists from the curtailment of their right to expression and of publication within the parameters of the law.”

    While the proposed legislation has good intentions, Congress should also recognize that, as Fortun puts it, there are now “varying platforms of expression via multimedia and the Internet which RA 7079 did not contemplate.” In fact, there are leading universities such as the University of Makati that do not see the need for a school paper because they have on campus several LED screens that provide information and opinion thru video and digital systems.

    True, the Campus Journalism Act has become antiquated although the need for human communication and messaging is universal and near-eternal, at least as long as humans are in this planet.

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