Media development organisations

Media development organisations in the Philippines can be broadly classified into two: 1) international organisations that usually partner with local ones to promote professionalism and/or in support for a cause (e.g. media freedom and human rights) and 2) local organisations or centres with similar objectives. A notable example for the first category would be the United Nations Economic, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which partnered with several local institutions and groups for activities such as developing journalism curricula and drafting campaign plans. For instance, in 2018, the UNESCO provided technical advice to the coalition of journalist groups tasked with creating a ‘national plan of action for the safety of journalists’ in the Philippines. This is in line with the task of UNESCO as the ‘global facilitator of the implementation’ of the UN ‘Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity’ (UNESCO Office in Jakarta, 2018). Another international organisation involved in the creation of the national plan is the International Media Support (IMS), a Denmark-based organisation aiming to help develop the media sector into ‘well-functioning and independent media.

Like UNESCO, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a ‘political foundation’ based in Germany, partnered with a local educational institution for the training of newsmakers. The Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism was established in 2000 and was envisioned as an ‘educational hub’ providing learning opportunities for working journalists in the region.

The International Red Cross, meanwhile, gives awards to journalists who wrote excellent humanitarian reports (‘Red Cross Award for Humanitarian Reporting’). The award aims to promote ‘for human dignity amid armed violence and to promote international humanitarian law, the rules that seek to limit, for humanitarian reasons, the effect of armed conflict’ (Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, 2013).

In the local scene, we have organisations that offer training and other learning opportunities for journalists, promote advocacy for the protection of practitioners, and seek support especially for the families of journalists slain or incapacitated in the line of duty. For example, the Philippine Press Institute, an association of newspapers, organises training sessions especially for print journalists. The Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ), meanwhile, is a coalition of media groups aiming to ‘raise funds and receive donations for the protection of journalists under threat; to provide immediate assistance to the families of journalists killed in the line of duty; to act as a support group for journalists in distress by, among other means, forming quick-response teams to investigate and report attacks against journalists; and to follow up the prosecution of cases involving attacks against journalists.’

When it comes to promoting quality of newswork and professionalism, the local organisations that need to be mentioned are the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and Vera Files. Established in 1989, PCIJ is a non-profit agency aiming to promote investigative reporting and ‘to create a culture of it within the Philippine press’. It funds investigative projects, publishes books on current affairs, produces documentaries, and conducts seminar-workshops. Vera Files, established in 2008, has fairly the same objectives. Having published specialized reporting projects supported by grants (e.g. elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), Vera Files describes itself as having the expertise ‘in the production of research-intensive and in-depth reports in multiple formats, and the training and mentoring of journalists, students and civil society organizations.’