Published Date: December 2, 2021
While the COVID-19 pandemic placed face-to-face capacity-building programs on hold, journalists in the Philippines continue to benefit from online training programs that enhance their competencies and prepare them for current and emerging challenges amid the health crisis.
“Maraming salamat sa pagkakataon na maging bahagi ng pagsasanay na ito. Malaking tulong ito lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya kung saan limitado ang galaw ng media.” (Thank you very much for the opportunity to join this training. It is a big help especially during the pandemic, when the media’s mobility is limited.)
This was shared by Rigie Malinao, publisher/managing editor of Samar Daily News Online, after he participated in one of the online training sessions on ethical and professional reporting and election coverage amid the pandemic organized by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) and UNESCO Jakarta with support from the Netherlands.
The online training, conducted in three batches from August to September 2021, is part of the Strengthening Safety of Journalists and Professional Journalistic Standards in the Philippines Project. The resource persons were Johanna Son, Filipino founder and editor of Reporting ASEAN, and John Reiner Antiquerra, Program Officer for Outreach and Communication at the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL).
During the training, Antiquerra gave an overview of the second edition of the Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct in Covering Elections, developed by the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) in partnership with AIJC. He also discussed ethical challenges for journalism in the pandemic and how to address these.
In the second session of the training, Son tackled safe and responsible election reporting amid the pandemic and the “infodemic,” placing emphasis on journalists’ role in helping the public navigate and debunk disinformation and misinformation. She also shared physical, psychological, and digital safety pointers for journalists.
Wilmor Pacay III, Squeeze.PH editor and AIJC Graduate School student, shared his key takeaway from the training: “Journalists and media organizations have a lot of work to do in terms of media ethics, elections, democracy, among many other things, but the focus could start on the safety and security of the journalists, compliance with ethical standards, and ensuring that facts are verified before releasing [the story] to the public.”
Nica Hanopol, VERA Files reporter-fellow, said she will be able to apply what she gained from the training—specifically, the “social media guidelines and newsroom ethics, which can serve as guideposts/shared values when faced with ethical issues.”
This initiative is among the contributions of AIJC and UNESCO to the implementation of the Philippine Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists (PPASJ), particularly the “Integrity and Professionalism” flagship area. This flagship area emphasizes “promoting and strengthening self-regulation within and among media houses and adherence to ethical standards by individual journalists.” UNESCO also supported the development of the PPASJ, which was launched in 2019.