We form a panel with a few of Manila’s bright young student editors at the Philippine Literary Fest to talk about paper-making in the digital age.
Gone are the days when we would sit down with our parents and read the Sunday paper religiously. Can you even remember the last time you got your latest scoop on an important international or pop cultural event through print? Admit it, you only (finally) understood that confusing Taylor Swift/Nicki Minaj/Miley Cyrus debacle because of your friend who wouldn’t stop retweeting reaction Vine videos.
Just because we get our news from our Twitter and Facebook feeds, it doesn’t mean that print is left in a coma. The magic of print is stronger than ever, even for millennials. Come on, do you really want to get your information about the Iglesia ni Cristo EDSA rally from Facebook? Do you have any idea what kinds of trolls lurk on the interwebs?
Last Friday, the folks from National Book Store invited us to host a panel at the Philippine Literary Festival alongside international and local authors and publishers. We tapped the editors of some of the best university publications to talk about the future of newspaper in the age of social media. Included in the panel were Katsy Garcia of De La Salle-College of St. Benilde’s The Benildean; Marinel Mamac of De La Salle University’s The Lasallian; Emille Llorente of San Beda College’s The Bedan; and Arianne Merez of University of Sto. Tomas’ The Varsitarian.
These young editors prove that print and social media can and do coexist. We don’t have to kill one medium for the other to flourish. In fact, the two complement each other. With the innovative and creative minds of today’s youth, the future of newspaper is brighter than ever.
YOUNG STAR: Besides the Internet, what do you think is the biggest challenge facing newspapers today?
MARINEL MAMAC: I think the biggest challenge for newspapers today is what to do in response to the rapidly changing needs and preferences of people, shaped largely by advancements in technology (and with it, the Internet), but also by people’s changing attitudes towards what news is and how we can consume it.
KATSY GARCIA: Newspapers deliver information through large blocks of text and minimal visual elements, which makes it harder — or rather, less enticing — for our visually attuned generation to consume.
How do you exercise editorial freedom and work within school rules?
ARIANNE MEREZ: UST does not censor any of our stories. We are free to practice editorial independence. The stories that we publish are ideas of our writers and editors. I think this makes The Varsitarian successful in its role since it fulfills the essence of a “student publication” — a paper by the students, for the students.
KATSY: We’re lucky that our administration doesn’t meddle very much in our editorial affairs, giving us relative freedom to talk about what we want, but Benilde is a Catholic institution so there are some limitations to the content we discuss in our publications. For example, for the fourth issue of our magazine, our theme was “taboo.” We talked about sex, drugs and rock and roll, and a lot of it had to be revised to fit the school’s ideals. At the end of the day, we try to deliver the objective truth while still upholding the values and ideals of the school.
Can bad text be saved by good design and vice versa?
KATSY: Technically, good design can make a subpar article bearable. A really good article could also possibly compensate for bad design. However, both situations should be avoided — good design should reflect good content, and good content should inspire good design. It’s a mutual relationship.
EMILLE LLORENTE: A publication shouldn’t only mind the aesthetics because that beats the primary purpose of delivering stories and connecting with the readers. Otherwise, it’s only as good as a coffee table book. On the flip side, good content can’t save bad design, either. This generation is very visual and consumers often judge based on what’s easy on the eyes. Plain text won’t send newspapers flying off the newsstands. Plus, an effective layout for great text can guide readers into better seeing the picture — pun intended.
How do you use social media as a tool?
MARINEL: The sheer number of people it allows us to reach on a daily basis has transformed much of how we operate. From the few-thousand-print copies we produce for each monthly issue to daily content posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it’s both exciting and terrifying to reach such a large audience not just within DLSU, but as far out as Japan or Canada. And it doesn’t just stop with the numbers — social media has also allowed us to explore other ways of telling stories outside of traditional journalism.
KATSY: Social media is definitely a modern phenomenon for journalism because it allows us to deliver content faster, further, and more creatively. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat all have different features and different groups of users, which allows us to streamline different types of content and feed them through these channels.
Where do you see newspapers in 10 years?
EMILLE: Everywhere! Just like mail and comics, newspapers aren’t dying — they’re just evolving. In this information-driven era, people are consuming more news than ever. Sure, not all newspapers will see print in 10 years, but just because they’re published through a different platform doesn’t mean they’re gone.
ARIANNE: Despite the common notion that “print is dead,” newspapers are continuously evolving, adapting new styles and design. In a world where everything is going digital, newspapers need to find their niche in the media industry.
MARINEL: We’re transitioning to new journalism and business models, finding new ways of incorporating business, media and marketing to meet the needs of audiences and keeping up with technology that is always changing and moving forward. One thing that’s for sure though is that newspapers will still be alive, but in a form that will be entirely different from what we know today.
KATSY: In 10 years, we think newspapers will still exist, but possibly in a different form. The term “newspaper” is just a format; it can still evolve into something that is better fitting to the audience it serves. Who knows, maybe they’ll be in different sizes and layouts, maybe even digital. No matter the format, what’s important is keeping the content relevant and delivering it in the most efficient way.