EDITORIAL - Our work, your story
(The Freeman) - July 18, 2016 - 12:00am

Every generation has its challenges, often peculiar to its own time. The generations of journalists and other employees who dedicated their lives to putting out The Freeman since its founding 97 years ago in 1919 to this day are no different. They, too, had their challenges. That the paper continues to hit the streets day after day is a testament to how successfully these generations have hurdled and gotten over every barrier, difficult choice, or nasty hiccup that stood in its way.

The challenges that threaten to confound the life of a publication can come in a variety of modes and guises. Often the challenges are political: How to chart a course through the often turbulent waters of politics -- from the American colonial period to the commonwealth era, from martial law to Edsa, through coups and dirty polls, and on to impeachments -- so your paper can sail through all of them, perhaps not unscathed, but never ever near dying.

There were challenges of differing sorts as well. There were internal personnel hemorrhages that left deep and lasting scars of a pain that will haunt forever. There were the usual economic downturns and tailspins and nosedives that felt like they would never end. But end they eventually did, owing to the indomitable spirit of the owners who never give up, never give in, never say die, and who believe in a little luck, and in lots and lots of prayers.

Other challenges were, quite literally, as unexpected as nature. A product that is largely dependent on artificial sources of power is such a nightmare to produce when the power goes out in the middle of the most terrific storms. But not even the strongest storms could put down a paper really determined to come out. When supertyphoon Ruping brought Cebu to its knees, guess which paper was the only one in the streets.

Most of the generations who have kept The Freeman going through those difficult early times have gone and our prayers go out for them. The legacy they left for the present, not just to carry but to nurture and value, is heavy. But responsibility is never a burden. And commitment always makes the shoulders stronger. For as long as the hearts of everyone in The Freeman are in their right places, your paper will continue to be right where you are.

Today The Freeman celebrates its 97th anniversary. In three years, it will be celebrating its first century. Not many can make that claim. That milestone is such a rarity that if your paper had been a person, the government would probably be giving a cash gift to mark the occasion. But The Freeman is not a person, even if it does have a name, a face, and a personality. It is a chronicler and keeper of your story, of your proud moments, your happy occasions, your difficult times.

And it seeks no reward, cash or otherwise, although it does feel mighty proud of the numerous awards, citations and accolades it has collected over the years. The trust and confidence of its readers and advertisers all through the 97 years of its existence is enough reward in itself to keep it going. And it will keep going for as long as that trust and confidence is there.

The Freeman of this generation faces its own peculiar set of challenges. Make no mistake about that. And while these challenges will still come from the same old sources – politics, economics, nature, and those tiny little things that bite from out of nowhere – the circumstances in which these challenges will come will be far different and prove far more formidable.

For the times have changed and changed immeasurably. The world to which The Freeman was first born was probably difficult to deald with for the first generation of journalists who manned this paper. But to the present generation viewing the past on hindsight, it may all seem like pablum. But to each generation its own level of difficulty. Without meaning to detract and demean, the changes in the society and environment of the present are certainly more threatening and overwhelming.

Simply put, while putting out a paper is never easy, it is more so today. That the Philippines is the second most dangerous place for journalists underscores in no small measure that reality. Those who came before faced trials meant for gentlemen. Today, it is literally a struggle for survival. You will never know what it took to put that newspaper in your hand. And yet how great a feeling it is to see you going over the pages. Our work, your story. For God and country.

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