THE CAMPUS press in the University seemed to have been on the decline with only a few college papers staying true to their mandate of being the watchdog of their respective institutions.  Most would opt to release their issues with stories limited to those that can be likened to press releases, or running stories on accreditations, licensure exam results, seminars or literary pieces. Cringe-worthy as it is, some would even confuse college papers as media arm of student councils.

But where is reporting on critical issues hounding their colleges? 

Our failures to ask the tough questions and give a voice to the voiceless is a clear disservice to the Thomasian readers. It is shameful to even use the title “student publication” when papers are clearly not doing their duties.

College editors must learn to stand up to their right to publish, and to do so independently. School administrators have to realize as well that student papers are not under their authority when it comes to publishing stories. The Campus Journalism Act of 1991 guarantees them of this right, that the State shall “uphold and protect the freedom of the press even at the campus level.”

Through this law, the campus press bears the mandate of “strengthening ethical values, encouraging critical and creative thinking and developing moral character and personal discipline of the Filipino youth.”

Running stories on all things praises including pageants while keeping mum on the true pressing matters of their college certainly do not foster critical thinking, nor does it develop moral character. Worse, it enables the ills of their respective institutions to prevail.

It is a humiliating blow to the noble cause of journalism–to serve the truth, whose first loyalty is where it lies, which may sometimes be a bitter pill to swallow. Thomas Aquinas would be ashamed to find out that an institution named after him does not live up to what he once said: that “It is better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.”

This problem can be observed as well in student papers outside UST. Only a few would dare speak truth to their administrations and they understand journalism as mere covering of events.

Perhaps media organizations would do better than not only to push for the advancement of the rights of the campus press and tackle societal and national issues. It would be good for them as well to usher in the improvement of the quality of their members’ outputs and to see if they are indeed serving the impartial and balanced truth to their readers.

In the previous years, we have always decried the seeming apathy and lack of participation among Thomasians on issues at hand. We have either denied or blamed it to many factors. But perhaps the campus press in this institution should take a look if it is doing its job of raising the discourse among its readers and enabling them to think critically through the stories it produces. 

Or alas, should the watchdogs remain in muzzle?


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