Carl Angelo Y. Cagatin, the current Features Editor of Vox Populi PH, won first place for Copyreading and Headline Writing category and second place for Editorial Writing in the previously conducted “PRESSent! Empowering Press Freedom through Campus Journalism” last July 11 to July 24. Organized by the PUP Epistemic League of Interactive future Teachers of English (PUP-ELITE), the series of competitions in different disciplines of campus journalism is collected as part of the National Press Freedom Day’s commemoration.
Press conference in the time of a pandemic
Due to the physical restrains and social distancing protocols, physical press conferences, and other school competitions are re-organized in the digital space. With this, online press conferences’ growth adapts with the endless need and pursuit of young campus journalists to enhance their skillsets in correlation with responsible journalism.
One of the numerous online press conferences organizers, PUP-ELITE opens its two-week conference within and outside the Polytechnic University of the Philippines’ premises. This provides a diversity of students all over the peninsula to join the competition. Aside from the press conferences, PUP-ELITE also provides a webinar that discusses the importance of press freedom and a writing workshop on different areas of campus journalism.
As part of the competition proper, high school and college students must register through the PUP-ELITE’s Google Forms. This will, later on, direct the interested participants to the designation categories. For this specific online press conference, the category includes: News Writing, Editorial Writing, Editorial Cartooning, and Copyreading and Headline Writing.
Cagatin shared that the online press conference is “more convenient than the previous physical setup” before the pandemic. “However, I must admit that there is a certain feeling of excitement that contestants like me only feel during physical contests,” he added.
Passing through the digital hurdles
Like any other students, even aspiring campus journalists like Cagatin have their own share of hurdles in the digital space. While the Philippines remain at the top of most internet users worldwide, the country still lack the essentials to make digital learning more comfortable and accessible to the Filipino public.
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“Pero, actually, muntikan na akong hindi makapagpasa kasi nasa pagawaan ‘yung laptop ko, e ‘yung submission sheet is only editable sa laptop,” (“But, actually, I almost couldn’t submit on the competition because my laptop is still under repair, and the submission sheet is only editable on laptop.”) Cagatin shared on Vox Populi PH. He even thanked his close friend for helping him submit the requirements for the competition on time.
With his perseverance, Cagatin managed to bag two of the four categories of the PUP-ELITE’s online press conference proper. The young campus journalist shared that he didn’t prepare that much for the said competition.
“I just used whatever knowledge is left in my brain,” Cagatin added.
Voicing out the youth dissent
Cagatin advised the upcoming young campus journalists to continue their passion for responsible journalism at the end of the competition. “Write and write. The COVID-19 pandemic will never be a hindrance for us to hone our skills,” he stated in the interview.
He also recognized that the participation of the youth is an ‘act of courage’ that they must practice—especially this time. “These trying times call for courageous people like us to defend the press freedom that enables us to voice out our dissent and disseminate information,” he ended.