The next generation of storytellers

Annie Perez - The Freeman

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of students who joined this year's Regional Schools Press Conference. For context, this is the Department of Education's way of raising future journalists as mandated by the Campus Journalism Law. It mandates for the department to conduct yearly contests in finding the next generation of journalists. If they do not want to tread that path, at least the skill of being critical and watchful towards the system is instilled in them. It was a joy that many students had the interest to write and tell stories despite lack of preparation for many.

The lack of preparation may have stemmed from the many matters that their school paper advisers had to facilitate. Most, if not all, teachers are swamped with work other than teaching. They are given administrative tasks and things to do which do not include the scope of their job. Yet, they carry on by giving extra time to their contestants so they can guide them. The coaches’ grins from ear to ear as they received the award are an indication that they fulfilled their job. Now that their trainees are now moving on to the nationals, it’s time for them to spread their wings and fly.

It is profound to note how crucial an educator's role is in shaping the new breed of storytellers. They must be taught to be succinct, direct, factual, and full of ethics. Their work must embody accuracy, balance, and fairness. News values must be above aesthetic. The story must be told as it should, no ifs and no buts. If the Department continues to invest in activities like these, I am sure that our society will secure a watchful citizenry. All actions are being accounted for, noting that all eyes are on them.

Recently, my former students won the grand prize in this year's Sinulog Film Festival. Some took time to thank me for what I imparted to them when they were still sophomores. They accounted for the never-ending guidance I gave to them even afterwards. It also meant I did my job as an instructor; my duty has come full circle. Their winning feat is an indication that their wings can take them soaring high, with or without their educators behind them. As they graduate this year, I look forward to the many things they will do in the field of telling stories. They can even surpass our generation's feat, as more grim tales continue to unfold in the voiceless areas of our society.

It is a responsibility to be able to impart well for those next in line. We don't have forever in our hands. Contests hone and challenge them to be better so when they leave the school, reality will be manageable for them. I commend all teachers who have done their best to push their trainees to their limits so they can be the best. A pat on the shoulder is an understatement.

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