‘In era of fake news, be faithful to journalism principles,’ Pulitzer winner tells campus journos

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Pulitzer Prize winner and former Reuters correspondent Manuel Mogato delivers the closing remarks for the 21st Inkblots. (Photo by Mary Jazmin D. Tabuena/ The Varsitarian)

Pulitzer Prize winner and former Reuters correspondent Manuel Mogato urged campus journalists to be fair, accurate and free of bias to keep journalism alive during the “fake news” era.

“If you will remain faithful to these principles, you can fight whatever false information that is spreading around,” Mogato said in his remarks, which capped the 21st Inkblots, the annual UST national campus journalism conference, held Jan. 6-8.

Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist John Nery stressed the importance of obtaining facts and verifying information in opinion journalism.

“Opinion journalism is based on facts, and to get those facts, one must be observant,” he said. “Opinion is not only an opinion. When based on a bedrock of facts, it becomes more useful.”

Philippine Star reporter Alexis Romero said journalists should develop the skill of “pointing out false claims and asking probing questions.”

“Pointing out false claims and asking probing questions do not make a journalist biased. They make a journalist a journalist,” he said in his news writing lecture.

Vernise Tantuco of Move.PH, Rappler’s citizen journalism arm, urged campus journalists to watch out for “false superlatives.”

Inquirer Sports editor Francis Ochoa explained that in sports writing, writers need to “focus on the human element,” as well as their narratives.

“The demands for sports writing haven’t changed. You still have to capture the atmosphere and take the reader where you are,” he said.

In his editorial cartooning lecture, Philippine Star chief cartoonist Rene Aranda reminded artists to remain culturally sensitive despite having artistic freedom.

In the Catholic journalism forum, Fr. Nick Lalog explained how the media, priests and the Church share the same mission of spreading the truth.

“Ang media at ang mga pari, we share the same thing: the truth. Ang batikos sa mga pari, batikos na rin sa mga mamamahayag ngayon dulot ng pagsasabi ng katotohanan.”

Veteran editor Nestor Cuartero underscored in his feature writing lecture the importance of long-form journalism.

“With the rise of YouTubers and migration of many journalists to online and video blogging, long-form journalism is still the future of print,” he said.

He said print media could cope with the rise of social and online media by using features as a tool.

Writing competitions for news, feature and sports categories were held during the 21st Inkblots.

Award-winning actor Rocco Nacino was the guest for the feature writing competition, where Cuartero urged fellows to ask probing, non-cliche questions to get to know the artist better.

Two-time UAAP beach volleyball champion and SEA Games medalist Jaron Requinton was the guest for the mock press conference for sports writing.

For the news writing competition, participants wrote a story on Rappler managing editor Glenda Gloria’s keynote speech.

UST journalism students James Paul Gomez and Charlene Grace Lao received first prize in news writing.

Escritor, the official student publication of Columban College-Barretto High School Department, bagged the prize in feature writing, while The Defender, the official student publication of Bataan Peninsula State University-Balanga Campus, won first place in sports writing.

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