Reflecting on the state of journalism in the “New Normal”

Reshaping media practice in the country

By Ysh Cabana

in Toronto

Veteran Philippine journalists, all recipients of the Canadian embassy’s Marshall McLuhan Fellowship, discuss how the “perfect storm of crises” is reshaping media practice in the country.

ABS-CBN news anchor Christian Esguerra, Rappler investigative editor Miriam Grace Go, and News5 editor-at-large Manny Mogato were panelists in a virtual forum on May 8, 2021.

“The biggest challenge confronting Philippine journalists now, just like other journalists elsewhere in the world is the pandemic itself,” said Esguerra, recipient of the 2020 McLuhan Journalism award. “Yes, the pandemic will end but very systemic problems are not going away soon,” he adds.

Esguerra said the role of traditional media “no longer dominates the conversation,” their credibility is questioned and that personnel are under “relentless attacks.” 

With the advent of social media, he said that so-called online “influencers” who have a good following take advantage and get away with spreading disinformation.

He also said that it’s been a year since the country’s telecoms body, with the support of President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies in Congress, shut down ABS-CBN’s free TV and radio operations.

Miriam Grace Go echoed that the attacks are unprecedented under Duterte, who has accused media organizations with “fake news” to limit critical coverage.

Online, she said, journalists are harassed while their lives are put in danger offline through the trolls and supporters enabled by Duterte.

She noted that the way journalists gather information and produce content has been disrupted by the “24/7 activities and conversation online.”

“We are in a polarized society,” said Manny Mogato. “There are many limitations in the movement of reporters, but these are not just challenges. This is also an opportunity for us journalists.” 

“The lack of transparency and conflicting information should have brought out the best in journalists working in the time of the pandemic,” said Mogato, who is also a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for “Duterte’s War”, for his 2018 reportage exposing police abuses in the government campaign.


Go urged journalists to be “be responsible news producers” and “not rely on social media” for gathering news.

For his part, Mogato challenged young journalists to “avoid reporting unverified information as gospel truth even when it comes from officials.”

Esguerra reminded practitioners, especially aspiring journalists, to keep up the ante by abandoning “timid reporting” and any favours or relationships that puts one’s integrity in question.

“This is a very imperfect industry which goes by the very nature of journalism itself,” he said. “The search for truth cannot be a perfect path toward it, but it doesn’t mean that we’re not supposed to do some self-examination.”

Journalists, he added, should educate the public of the important role they play in a democracy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top