With more newsrooms transitioning to digital reporting, Internews, an international non-profit media support, held a live discussion where twenty-one (21) representatives from provincial and national media organizations in the country shared their journey and challenges in their transition to digital sphere.
With the theme “Journalism and Big Tech: Promoting a Healthy Information Ecosystem”, which intends to deepen the understanding of the challenges of local newsrooms in the digital space and promote independent, high-quality journalism, Bicoldotph was among the invited regional media organization in the event hosted on August 30 at the Makati Diamond Residences.
This is part of the Initiative for Media Freedom, a program run by Internews and its partners with funding from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to enhance the conditions for a free press, combat misinformation, and strengthen self-regulation in the Philippine media industry.
Some participants shared their personal accounts of being harassed online or having their journalistic work plagiarized, an issue on digital safety mostly suffered by more traditional newsrooms new to digital reporting.
During the roundtable discussion, it was suggested that local newsrooms should have verification procedures on their platforms and practice platform-specific safety mechanisms and tools to help them with their digital hygiene.
The participants also mentioned their problem in commercial content creation due to competition and lack of exclusivity online, and the continuous struggle for monetization amid growing demand for localized, relevant news and information among online audiences.
They highlighted how news partnership initiatives are popular to Metro Manila-based newsrooms, while newsrooms outside Metro Manila lack the same awareness and access.
Although highly contextual and grounded to a local language, participants asked for digital support in the transition stage especially in navigating analytics and understanding their readers’ insights to improvise methods and techniques to grow their reach and news visibility.
The representatives said that while “genuineness” and “authenticity’ are crucial in making content viable, their ability to interact with their audiences and to improve their content is ‘equally important’.
According to Internews, local newsrooms are important in the information ecosystem because unlike malign actors that exploit these platforms, they are far more accountable, responsive, and have a genuine public service agenda.
Internews believed that there is much potential in the local newsroom in the country only if they receive a stronger assistant in the fields of safety and sustainability during their digital journey. | Meralyn Melitante