With the theme “Journalism in Crisis. Crisis in Journalism,” this year’s annual Asian Journalism Research Conference 2019 (AJRC) highlighted the need to remain vigilant against so-called fake news, especially amidst disasters and conflict.
Morning plenary keynote speaker Edson Tandoc of the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore said that one of his recent studies showed that most people were passive in their reaction to ‘fake news’. He said that to fail to take action against disinformation would translate to being complicit in the spread of ‘fake news’.
Similarly, McLuhan fellow and ABS-CBN reporter Jeff Canoy said that even amidst covering Marawi, reporters had to battle disinformation, especially those that caused confusion and panic. He noted that covering a war zone was already difficult in itself but this became more so because reporters had to distinguish between reliable information and fake ones.
AJRC is the annual research conference for undergraduate students organized by the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP-CMC) Department of Journalism of the in collaboration with the Journalism Program of the University Santo Tomas. This year, the Penang-based Universiti Sains Malaysia served as their Asian partner.
In the afternoon, a research competition is held among Journalism students. This year’s winners of the Chit Estella Student Journalism Awards are:
Academic Research Category
- Leian Adriatico, Angelie Payuyo and Julieanne Tabilog of Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) for their analysis of editorial cartoons by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines about extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration;
- Angelica Yang of the UP Diliman for her research on the quality of science journalism in the country;
Special Projects Category
- AdMU’s Anna Luna and Loreben Tuquero for their multimedia report on the experiences and struggles faced by underage vagrants amid the Duterte administration’s anti-loitering crackdown;
Investigative Reporting Category
- UP Diliman’s Agatha Gregorio, Nica Hanopol, and Angela Ng for their investigative report that found the university’s cops were allowing illegal gambling on campus.
The awards are given as a tribute to veteran journalist and UP Journalism Department professor Chit Estella-Simbulan, a VERA Files trustee who died in a road crash in 2011 along Commonwealth Avenue. On hand to give the award was Prof. Roland Simbulan of UP Manila, spouse of Chit Estella and UP CMC Dean Arminda Santiago.
The AJRC seeks to promote academic research in Journalism as well as print, broadcast and online in-depth projects. Moreover, AJRC provides a venue for students to share their work with fellow students in the region. The activity is in line with the Department’s thrust of fostering excellence in journalism practice and research as a CHED Center for Excellence. AJRC Academic partners include the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and the Trinity University of Asia.
The conference was made possible through sponsorships by the University of the Philippines Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Development (UP OVCRD); UP Office of Initiatives for Culture and the Arts (OICA); VERA Files; the Philippine Press Institute; the Roland Simbulan and Family; Jollibee Corporation and the Embassy of Canada-Manila.