Rethinking campus journalism

The better way to teach journalism in campus is to train them to write for life.

Perhaps, that’s a motherhood phrase.

What I really wanted to say is to go beyond competition mode.

The holding of competitions to test the skills of school children on campus journalism might have worked to a certain point.

But making the students practice campus journalism more might do miracles and fish more youth to the craft of factual reporting.

This is no critique on DepEd’s practice of holding schools press conferences from the division to the national levels.

I believe the efforts in campus to teach writing news, features, editorial, and sports; taking photos, and also copyediting are so much glued to “write to compete”.

Over the past months I had been involved in lectures to elementary and high school students on campus journalism.

The work is courtesy of concerned school paper advisers and education officials who wanted to prepare for the Division Schools Press Conference. The recent DSPC was held in mid-October in Don Carlos town.

Without prejudice to the amount of work put up by the advisers on training campus writers, I think there is wide room for creativity in providing more effective avenues.

There are other ways that could supplement what is achieved in the schools press conferences.

Look at how often they release school publications every year. Once or twice — if we get lucky?

That is if they release a 20-page issue with glossy covers and elaborate colors.

Why not come out with a four-page once in two months issue that could serve as laboratory space for the aspiring journalists? It is cheaper and it is faster to publish! Or with the advent of the internet, educators can use high school students having more time to be online to make t he blogs as avenue for their writing skills to develop.

Besides, it provides more opportunities for coaching, and also pride and sense of accomplishment — in short motivation — for the writers in seeing their work off to the press.

Also, how are “aspiring journalists” chosen?

Open and campus-wide screenings might have to be conducted towards the end of the present school year. Then a writing workshop could be held during summer for the incoming staffers.

How are advisers chosen, too?

Qualified advisers must either receive additional pay or reduced workload so that they can be expected to facilitate the publication with quality. They must be ready to mentor the editorial team and must not write all the articles by themselves!

What if at the end of the year a school paper adviser writes all the articles? That’s definitely a sign of a failure of instruction. I mean failure of education.

While expectations have to be adjusted with regards to quality of work, aspiring writers must see the school paper as their own, not that of their advisers.

After all, the reason why we teach campus journalism and allot budget of time and resources for it every year is we wanted the youth to aspire to be free and responsible citizens.

The aim to learn the tenets of free and responsible journalism is important for a society to remain free.


About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

18 responses to “Rethinking campus journalism”

  1. Arvin says :

    But i think the most imperative thing to do is to give the school paper relative autonomy—not only financially but more important editorially.

    The schoo paper’s editor-in-chief must not be beholden to any school authority. They must be able to publish news items, and op-ed pieces without consulting their principal, headmaster, Prefect of disciplines, and any other school authorities. Although the possibility of abuse is there, as CJ Reynato Puno said, it must not be made a justification to curtail the rights of the students to express their opinions even at the school level.

    I know a school paper here in Davao City whose editorial decisions are made not by the editor-in-chief but by the school principal. One time, I had a conversation with the paper’s moderator and she told me that she and her editor-in-chief need to consult the principal regarding the article that they want to publish. The article is a critique on the newly hired teachers’ performance. The principal told them not to publish the article because it makes a bad image of the school. Accreditors like the PAASCU might read it and thus gave them a bad impression of the school.

    So apart from the things you said, giving editorial independence to the school paper should also be considered.

  2. istambay says :

    Hi Arvin,
    Exactly what I also want to say when I mentioned that they need to learn the value of the free press and responsible journalism.

    You have articulated it very well and I appreciate your insights.

    I just want to add this for context: most of the campuses I have been to are starters on campus journ.

    But in one or two of these encounters with them there was a question on how to deal with the censorship.

    I told the advisers about my hard line position: it is the duty of the school to demonstrate independence.

    One of them had a kind response: it will be a process because even the principals and advisers are students of press freedom and they need to learn more to step up.

    In Davao, I have observed that the education has ran wide and deep maybe also because they see more practioners outside the campus.

    I agree. Independence is imperative.

  3. jen says :

    hi! i’m a grade school teacher in a private school in bukidnon.

    i agree that the teaching of journalism skills are glued on ‘writing to compete.’ as a lot of teacher advisers would tell, winning in the presscon is the surest way to prove the publication’s worth. unless you win, the paper will be snubbed by everyone. sad noh?

  4. Istambay says :

    Hi Jen,

    I’m sorry it took me so long to respond to your comment.
    Thank you for affirming my insight.
    It is really sad and how I wish they go beyond that. Maybe one measure of the success of school papers in to know how many of their present staff become staffers of school papers in high school and in college, better yet in community papers!

    Teaching campus journalism is not just to teach how to write but also to share the value of press freedom and responsibility, which are imperatives that apply not only to professional journalists but also to the public in general.

    They said the media is powerful but some members of the press are also as corrupt as some government officials they ought to watch.

    I’m sure we can still do something by teaching them early in campus journalism.

    Best regards!

  5. Andrew says :

    Hi sir, I was looking for related literature about campus journalism over the net for my thesis. I found this article and deemed it relevant to my study about Radio Broadcasting Competitions in DepEd’s school press conferences. I would like to cite you in my thesis sir. With this, i need find a short background of your profession… i can’t see a profile page po kasi here in your blog. Anyway, I am a fourth year BA Broadcast Communication from UP Diliman. Thank you sir, your reply will be very much appreciated. God bless. 😀

  6. Istambay says :

    Hi Andrew,
    Sure you can.
    So blog entries are allowed now in thesis documentation?
    Send me an email and I’ll forward to you my profile.
    Wait a minute, you can try checking my “About Istambay sa Mindanao” page I think I posted a profile there.

    Anyway, I work as a full time journalist with and as part-time editor of a local newspaper in Malaybalay City, Central Mindanao Newswatch.

    Let me know how else I could help. I been there (thesis writing) in UP Miagao. It was a very demanding experience.

    • Ikkin says :


      I’m just a new adviser in a campus paper in one of the school in Balingasag. I just want to know if how far can a paper staff lambast teachers with their comments? They would not even want to be corrected with their articles. What is the function of a Technical Adviser of a campus paper? Are advisers limited only to syntax corrections?


      • Walter Balane says :

        Hi Ikkin,

        I am so sorry it took me eons to respond. I did not notice this comment.

        The degree of influence an adviser can breath to a paper depends on the level. In elementary, the gatekeeping task is high. But it diminishes as they grow older, in high school and then

        It should be advisory only, meaning guidance. The student paper must be able to claim its autonomy as much as possible.

        In the lambast story you mentioned, you can help them by reminding them of fairness. They must be able to get the side of the accused. The story must be fair and balance. Advising does not mean, however, that you will tell them to embargo the story. The story should be out but with the other side.

        If the lambasting was in the “Editorial” I guess it should be the position of the whole staff, not just of one writer (for elementary and high school, when no one is assigned to be the editorial writer). In some cases, somebody is assigned, so he obtains autonomy to present the premises and the position he takes from the premises. (They must understand what is the role and rule in presenting an editorial, too, and that’s basic.

        If all the while, you have been referring to a college/university campus paper, then you should allow them more autonomy; of course after ensuring they all were properly trained about the basics/requisites of journalism. Even professional journalists needed formal and informal training on basic reporting, media laws, and ethics. So I think these basics should also be afforded to the campus journalists. There are many things to discuss about it but the bottom line is: the campus paper is the foray of young journalists into the life of journalism, which breaths on the values and principles of the responsible, free, just, fair, and humane.

        My best regards, and yes apologies for the super delayed response.


  7. freaked4jesus says :

    Hi sir… thank you so much.

    Yes sir, internet resources are now allowed to be used for thesis provided that the material has a clear and reputable author… and you happened to be a journalist, and that’s perfect.

    Thank you again sir, this will be really helpful…

    God bless! 😀

  8. janluck says :

    hi sir…ryt now. i am looking for a related literature for my topic is PERCEPTION OF STUDENT WRITERS ON CAMPUS JOURNALISM…i found this article of yours and it’s indeed relevant to my thesis..kung maaari, gusto ko po snana kaung i.cite sa thesis ko…by d way, I’m JAN ADELBERT CANTIGA…sir, can you help me on my thesis by giving or posting some related literature and studies here on your webiste?…i’m hoping for your positive response ASAP…tnx

  9. janluck says :

    sir, if ever you can find some articles regarding on campus journalism, can you send it 2 me in my yahoomail:

    thank you so much…

  10. Desiree says :

    hi sir

    i just want to have atleast an evaluation about the writing skills of students here in mindanao or particularly here in davao doing a reseach about it so hopefully u can help me sir..
    thanks and keep up the good work….

  11. jaharra cola says :

    i did not understand it,,,,,,,,,,,,……………… he

  12. jaharra cola says :


  13. jazhel minguito says :

    hi! gud day.. in our scol publication we are suppress by our administration.. what are we going to do to express what they hide from the studens?

  14. mindanaw says :

    Hi Jazhel, find ways to expose your situation to pressure the administration. You can put it on Facebook, Twitter or wherever possible. But you really need to share more about how they suppress your school publication for me to offer suggestions on how exactly you can “express” what they “suppress.” Sorry for the super delayed response. I hope to be more updated in this blog.

  15. staticbubbles says :

    Reblogged this on staticbubbles and commented:
    Here’s a take on campus journalism from a Mindanao writer. Very informative. And sensible.

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