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Charter change and the provincial media

By Johnny Dayang

Amid the ambivalence and noise that add confusion to the seemingly determined move to amend the 1987 Constitution, the role of the provincial press, apart from the national media, is often overlooked, conveniently or otherwise.

Granted that provincial publications have limited circulation and reach, they still cumulatively hold the ace when it comes to bringing issues to the grassroots, whether by radio or print.

Rural journalists in fact supply many of the stories that find space in national broadsheet and tabloid newspapers, and those broadcast by Manila-based radio and television stations.

Even in social media, literate rural media players have taken their stuff to cyberspace, updating netizens on developments intheir areas. Provincial media players are active participants in news dissemination.

Engaging their talents and enlisting their support to help educate the countryside public on Charter Change is a challenging responsibility they can effectively participate in. They, however, need refreshers to broaden their knowledge and know-how about this legislative initiative.

Rural communities, alas, seldom have their own supply of newspapers. They turn to local radio stations for latest local news, and to television, which for national developing events in our Manila-centric archipelago. Information are often filled by the rural media.

The efficacy of the community media can be gauged from the way rural folks air their sentiments and perceptions about charter change, and the suggestions they make as contributions to the national debate.

Truth to tell, the provincial press is not strictly rural; it is only their location that suggests they are from areas outside urban centers. In terms of acuity and sharpness in discussing issues, one must not forget that many of them, through the decades, have been editors of national media instruments.

Charter Change, moreover, is not just about amending provisions in the Constitution; it is also about adopting constitutional adjustments that appeal to the people and by extension reflect their own sentiments. We definitely cannot leave this exercise to politicians alone who have their own self-serving agenda, many of which are discordant with actual public welfare.

The rural press remains the backbone of information in this country. If there are wayward and crooked rural media players, their number is certainly not as many as the number of hopelessly corrupt politicians who shamelessly pontificate about integrity to hide their dubious activities.

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