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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Echoes From
BY JOHNNY DAYANG

Countryside press: Partnership with the Aquino presidency

With the dawning of a new political era under the Aquino presidency, much is expected of the countryside press to play a constructive role as a catalyst for change.
But that perspective hinges on how the new dispensation views the rural media in its modes of governance. Whether it considers the provincial press as friend or foe remains to be seen.
Aquino, noticeably low-key since he was a congressman of Tarlac, ran on a platform of anti-corruption. Presumably, he’s expected to pursue that campaign promise to the hilt as a matter of course during the six-year reign.
On the part of the countryside media, it is no less expected to lend a helping hand in President Aquino’s crusade against the shenanigans in the government bureaucracy.
It can serve as a watchdog in exposing all the venalities of those in power.
However, if one takes a long, hard look at the state of the rural press, it is itself in dire need of government succor. Perhaps, President Aquino may consider extending some sort of financing concessions to provincial publishers in the form of tax exemptions and other fiscal perks.
The high costs of supplies of newsprint, ink and other materials are exacting a heavy toll on the media industry in the regions. Burdened by the prohibitive expenses entailed in putting out a weekly community newspaper, not a few publishers had folded up. Those surviving can hardly cope with the day-to-day realities of existence.
Though in terms of resources they are the poor cousins of the mainstream media in Imperial Manila, provincial publishers boast the trust and confidence of those they faithfully serve for decades. Their readership loyalty is simply imponderable, beyond the realm of commerce.
Cerrtainly, the rural press has its innate potentials which can only be realized through a partnership with the Aquino administration.
Needless to say, much is at stake in the fight for democracy, good government and socio-economic progress – not only for President Aquino, but also for the community media.
Thus, it can be succinctly stated that media’s reportage, particularly in the countryside, mirrors the state of governance.
Press reports can only be as good or bad as how those entrusted with the sovereign will and mandate of the electorate can convincingly fulfill their long-cherished dreams and aspirations.

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