Negotiating for local content
This is another attempt to return to up-to-date blogging.
First and foremost, thanks to those who are behind the Top 100 Mindanao Blogs of 2007.
Nakatunga nalang ang 2008, ayha pa ko naka comment ani. I’m trying to convince myself that it’s “Better late than never!”
I am glad that Istambay sa Mindanao was included in the list, despite being stagnant most of the time.
Blogging has good prospects but my new work terrain here in Bukidnon required realigning priorities.
After publishing 32 issues of our weekly local newspaper Central Mindanao Newswatch, I have mixed reactions. I am both happy and sad.
I am happy because of the things that we have started and are now starting to bear fruit.
We have tried to expand coverage with more stories on business, culture, livelihood, local governance, education, sports, justice and the voices of the marginalized.
In the past it has been mostly on crime and violence and the top stories in the province.
Now, we are also improving our “follow up” stories so our readers would get a chance to be updated of the week’s top stories.
Aside from covering more fields, we are also working on expanding the range of the points of view that we take. The easiest to manage is the chief of police, the mayor, and the board members among other “official sources.”
Now we want to give more space and effort to “unofficial” sources; which include the grassroots sectors such as farmers, small and medium entrepreneurs, teachers, among other people.
In line with this, we have launched the column “Voice of the People”, the paper’s section for contributors.
All in all, we intend to provide more local content to the local newspaper and try to make a dent in democracy (lofty, lofty!).
Honestly, we want to reinvent the local newspaper in order to survive. We are faced with a big number of concerns.
One thing that makes me sad is the biting reality of poor advertisement and subscription. Street sales are also down.
Some of our field personnel suggested we might as well show lotto numbers, more violence, gossip and filth/sex in our weekly issues. That’s what our tabloid competitors have done.
Radio is of course the number one threat.
We have to continuously search for ways to reinvent ourselves with our very limited resources.
There is only one reporter now and a few part-time sales personnel.
We have tried to strike a balance in maximizing our resources to come up with more local content and the need to come out on-time. It is discouraging at times. The other day I met our circulation man and he told me another subscriber, a courier, has subscribed to the smut newspaper from Cagayan de Oro.
It just struck me and was there pinned in my seat thinking what more efforts we could pull off to improve more.
While other journalists discuss about their experiences as online or mobile journalists, with all the modern gadgets they had since time, I am quite stuck here trying to make both ends meet — how to deliver good local news and other content on time.
Quite a gloomy picture, but I see some bright lights ahead.
Still, we are lucky that we still have a big room to navigate through — more improvements but without intending to compromise truth, professionalism and relevance.