IT MAY not have hundreds of graduates at the end of every school year but The Manila Times College’s (TMTC) job placement rate of graduates is comparable to if not better than that of the big universities.
At TMTC, students undergo extensive training in news gathering and writing and are given opportunities to have their news stories published in The Manila Times (TMT). That is the TMTC’s edge over other schools offering journalism or related degrees.
“We have many alumni working professionally in major print, television and radio networks. That suggests that we have made a mark in the journalism field in the Philippines,” according to Dante “Klink” Ang 2nd, vice chairman and dean of TMTC.
Isagani Cruz, previous president of TMTC, placed the employment rate of the school’s graduates at 100 percent.
TMTC is the only educational institution in the Philippines that is owned by a newspaper publishing company. It was first launched as The Manila Times School of Journalism in 2002 and later evolved into The Manila Times College, offering courses other than journalism at its campus in Subic, Zambales. The main campus is in historic Intramuros, Manila.
Founded on October 11, 1898, The Manila Times has been acknowledged as the oldest existing English-language newspaper published daily in the Philippines. It also has online edition and digital version of the paper.
“First, we needed to have better qualified people applying to our publishing firm. It seemed that the better graduates were going to the bigger firms, naturally. The plan was for the graduates of the College to be offered work at the Times,” explained Ang, also president and CEO of The Manila Times.
“Obviously, that plan has worked well, given that our graduates are also in demand by our competitors,” he noted.
Over the last 15 years, TMTC has produced journalism graduates who are now employed as reporters, writers, desk editors, producers, anchors, researchers, communications specialists or photojournalists in the top media companies in the country. Others ventured into public relations, web development and advertising. Some pursued higher studies, including six who have now become lawyers.
Aileen Tandang (Class of 2009), TV production staff at GMA 7 Network, said her stay at TMTC gave her memorable experiences that have taught her valuable lessons “to be an effective and efficient employee in the media industry.”
She cited TMTC’s hands-on training where students were treated like real journalists, given real beats and made to deliver newsworthy articles that honed their journalism skills.
“At TMTC, I learned not just the principles and ethics of journalism but the other facets of communication as well, which have given me opportunities in and out of the media industry,” said John Roy Abenaza (Class of 2015), a project officer at the Human Resources Development Foundation Inc. under the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).
The concept behind TMTC was not only to build a stable of reporters but also to enhance existing programs offered elsewhere.
“We noticed that the curriculum in journalism and related programs at most schools was lacking. Many graduates we encountered did not have the basic skills needed to work professionally. We also observed that the hands-on exposure was limited to the on-the-job-training that was usually scheduled in the junior or senior year of studies,” said Ang, whose family is the fourth owner of The Manila Times since the 1986 People Power Revolution.
“At The Manila Times College,” he added, “we offer hands-on training from Day 1. We believe that the better way was to prepare future journalists with a solid academic program complemented by years of hands-on training.”
To Sheila Mañalac (Class of 2014), media communications officer at Hatten Wines based in Bali, Indonesia, “the unique aspect of TMTC is that it pushes the students to have an experiential learning—they get a chance to witness daily story conferences, attend press conferences and events and, sometimes, even get commissioned to write stories for the paper.”
John Basco (Class of 2010), news video editor at GMA 7 Network, said it did not matter that he did not come from a big university. “Coming from a small school motivated me to prove that TMTC graduates do not just compete with graduates from big universities but can even excel in the workplace, given our impeccable hands-on training during our stay at TMTC,” he said.
Things are looking brighter for TMTC in the years ahead. The College is in the process of applying for courses other than journalism for offering in its Intramuros campus, including Broadcasting, Entrepreneurship and Digital Forensics.
“I would not say that we have met our objectives. As an enterprise, we need to grow and strive to improve continuously. As you know, the school has suffered the loss of new students as the education system in the Philippines executes the K to 12 program,” Ang said.
“We have used that transition period to improve our facilities, including the construction of a modern, fully-equipped TV studio. Despite the difficulties, we are optimistic about the future and look forward to accepting a freshman batch next school year.”
TMTC had its share of ups and downs, but it has remained standing for 15 years and is determined to last for many more years with better programs and facilities that would give it edge over the big universities.
“The industry itself is undergoing change that has posed challenges to traditional media and even big-name players. So a major challenge is to develop a program focused on principles, rather than on mere skills that may become obsolete in the information age. In short, we need not only to be relevant to the present market requirements but forward-looking in the way we teach aspiring journalists,” Ang said.
“We need to do a better job at managing the College. We want to offer the highest quality education, but to do so would require investments and commitment of other resources.”
So, what are in store for TMTC in the years ahead?
“I believe in the program that we offer. I believe that The Manila Times College will continue to be an effective program in developing future professional journalists. Also, I believe that we will continue to be effective because the students are exposed to the inner workings of The Manila Times. As the country’s newspaper of choice, it makes for an ideal laboratory for student journalists to learn and develop their craft.”
“We hope to instill in our students the values and principles that are at the core of this newspaper for 119 year now, ever since its founding on October 11, 1898,” Ang said.