AFTER two months of extensive lectures at The Manila Times College and intensive field work and news writing experiences with The Manila Times newspaper, 24 journalism students from different Metro Manila universities have said that they have learned the techniques in news and feature writing to prepare them for a job in the news media once they finish their course.
Fourteen students from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), four from St. Scholastica’s College, three from the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC), two from the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, and one from the Far Eastern University (FEU) comprise the fourth batch of graduates of TMTC’s Journalism Plus program.
“You are going to be the journalists of the future because you have done intensive training, a different kind of journalism. You are doing something that nobody else in the country is doing. You are giving voice to the voiceless,” Dr. Isagani Cruz, president of TMTC, told the students.
“Media is the voice of the people to the government, in fact media is the way to the government so we are in the middle of two very important things. It is very important to know what the people want, what they need to know, what they want the government to know,” he added.
Dr. Cruz said the youth should never be afraid to say what the people wanted to say.
“You are more privileged because you are more intelligent, educated, trained and more aware that’s why you should not also be afraid to say what you want to say, as individuals.”
The students completed 50 to 200 hours of rigorous on-the-job training course with combined lectures, workshop activities, and coverage of different news beats.
Many of them have seen their by-lines and taglines in stories they produced and were published in The Manila Times, the oldest existing English language newspaper in the country.
The students were honored on Friday in simple ‘graduation” rites at the TMTC training room. They were awarded Certificates of Completion, and membership to the Society of Philippine Journalists (SPJ), an exclusive organization of ethical, effective, energetic, empowered writers.
Dante “Klink” Ang 2nd, president, chief executive officer and executive editor of The Manila Times, led the students in reciting and committing to observe the Journalists Code of Ethics that was formulated in 1988 by the National Press Club and the Philippine Press Institute.
“We call this course Journalism Plus because it is not just an OJT course in journalism, a course in writing and reporting, and a course in the proper use of language, but it is also a kind of retreat, a refresher course in self-discipline, resourcefulness, ethics, and citizenship,” explained Dr. Cruz.
The program offers a unique combination of school work and actual coverage of news beats under the assistance and guidance of regular beat reporters and individual mentoring by The Manila Times editors. This was intended to provide them an opportunity to gain real-life work experience and to prepare them for a career in journalism.
It is an internship program designed to nurture the writing skills of aspiring journalists and to inculcate in them the values of self-discipline, improve their self-confidence, and hone their journalistic skills through various exercises, both written and spoken.
“About a decade ago, we set out on a mission to establish an educational institution that would provide aspiring journalists hands-on training to complement their academic undertakings. A few years later, the Manila Times College operated under the vision to produce competent journalists who subscribe not only to the highest professional standards but also to the loftiest ethical practice. The program today marks the extension of that vision,” said Dr. Dante A. Ang, chairman emeritus of The Manila Times.
Professionals with long experiences in their own fields spent time sharing principles, techniques, and tips to the interns. Tita C. Valderama, TMTC’s OJT coordinator, gave the students refresher lectures on grammar, news writing, cultivating news sources, journalism research, journalism ethics, and interviewing techniques.
The students also had workshops on interviewing, writing story summaries, and story leads, apart from actual news and feature writing.
The Manila Times business editor Conrad Carino shared tips on business writing, copy editing, proofreading, and headline writing.
Managing Editor Beting Laygo Dolor gave a comprehensive lecture and workshop on feature writing, and delved on how feature writing differs from and compares with writing straight news and literary pieces.
Private lawyer Siddharta S. Peñaredondo 3rd reminded the students about the rights and responsibilities of journalists as he talked about the pitfalls of libel and plagiarism, and how to avoid being sued.
TV 5 news manager Vicky Robles shared tips and techniques in information gathering, news writing, editing and reporting for radio and television.
The students gave encouraging feedback on the course.
“I learned how difficult it is in the real world of journalism. But despite the struggles and hardships, this OJT program was able to prepare me for what I’d be encountering the moment I start pursuing this field,” said Princess Catherine Ocampo, an incoming senior journalism student at UST.
“Having the experience of covering (news) beats helped me appreciate the fun and fulfillment in being a journalist,” she added.
Mary Lane Mitchell Valcos, also from UST, said that she liked the workshop exercise given by Mr. Ang on writing a story lead within 60 seconds.
“TMTC had taught us in many ways,” said Nica Anngela Cortez of EAC. She lamented that she and two of her friends enrolled three weeks late into the program and missed some important lectures.
To Lianne Dominique Hidalgo of Letran, the lectures on libel, business writing and journalism ethics prepared her for these subjects she would be taking up in the next school year. That was why her classmate Charmaine Capili wished the sessions on libel and journalism ethics were longer than three hours each.
“I learned the things taught in school in a more detailed manner and I also experienced being on the field rather than in a classroom setting. These experiences can help greatly in my future career,” said Kristofer Benigno of UST.
Katherine Pearl Ting of UST said that the Journalism Plus course helps not only to develop the writing skills of students but also to boost their self-confidence.
“Aside from giving the students a chance to experience the life of a real journalist, we were also given a review of the things we must have forgotten already,” said Maria Laarni Mallari of UST.
Ashley Jesther dela Pena said that she had learned different things like on broadcast journalism and on libel and that she even exceeded the required number of hours for UST students.
“I learned to be resourceful and independent in finding stories. I also learned how to get along other people and that helped me to be more confident,” said Micah Erica S. Lucero of UST.
“I learned how to write better articles,” said Aisha Khadija D. Caguiat of UST. “As my mentor suggested, I should keep in writing and writing every day so I can further improve my writing skills.”
Haruko B. Tolentino of EAC said that she believes the Journalism Plus course can help students improve their writing skills because it “focuses on the correct way of writing the news.”
Charmiane Marie M. Nuqui of UST said that she would recommend TMTC’s internship program because it was comprehensive. “I didn’t just gain experience in the actual field but I also got to experience broadcast streaming, lectures from professional journalists and editors, and I was able to develop my journalistic instinct which will be crucial when I become a journalist,” she said.
TMTC offers Journalism Plus OJT course three times a year: First semester (June to October), second semester (November to March), and summer (April to May). Enrolment for the first semester course is going on. The program starts on June 17.