MIDLAND COURIER LINGERS, THRIVES ON NEW CHALLENGES
In spite of the fast-changing world we are in, the Baguio Midland Courier turned 76 years old on April 28, the day when its founders announced the birth of what would soon become one of the most enduring community papers in the country today.
The first line of this piece was a variation from the editorial written by its founding editor, Atty. Sinai Hamada, in the maiden issue of Midland on April 28, 1947. Our founder’s words became the manifesto that Midland has lived by all these years as a community newspaper that is fair, fearless, friendly, and free.
And we continue to do so.
As a community newspaper, we have relied on the faithful readership of the locals whose Sunday morning routine is not complete without buying a copy of the paper.
It is where one gets news happening in the Cordillera (including those who passed on at the Obituary section), gets a weekly dose of wisdom and understanding of pressing issues through its respected columnists, or would be amused or appalled by the True or False section, or the Week’s Mail, or Opinion pages.
Also, the paper’s dedicated coverage of news and information that of great public interest and its editorial stand through the years have brought to the fore pressing issues, which became a subject of discussions and actions at the various local government units in the Cordillera, resulting in the crafting of policies for the betterment of the communities.
This was the reason why Midland was elevated in the Hall of Fame in 2018 by the Philippine Press Institute in the annual Civic Journalism Community Press Awards for being a consistent awardee in civic journalism excellence.
As decades pass, Midland has coexisted even with the rise of radio and television as the medium for news and information.
But as the tides turn, the medium for information has now shifted from the traditional print and broadcast media to the digital space. Journalists are now faced with the reality of conforming to these new ways of releasing information to maintain its authority and integrity as the source of factual information.
Midland, as many other community newspapers in the country that have lingered such as Sunday Punch in Pangasinan, which was established in 1957, is threatened with the rise of digital media platforms.
In the recent PPI national forum, newsrooms have acknowledged the effect of social media in sowing disinformation as everybody can claim to be the source of information, with many social media users undermining journalistic principles in news gathering such as verification and fact-checking prior to releasing the information to the public.
Added to that is the challenge of monetization of the websites and social media platforms to make it more viable for community papers to thrive digitally.
Even as newsrooms scramble to be relevant in a pool of information from non-journalists, another challenge comes with artificial intelligence that threatens not only journalists but many other occupations.
With all these challenges, Midland is learning to ride the tide. It has banded with 70 other members of the PPI in its shared platform – the PPI News Commons – a news site where people can access the websites of various community papers in the country, including that of Midland.
The Midland’s official Facebook account where it alternately provides contents from the latest happenings in the community, now has 123,000 followers and counting.
One thing is certain, Midland will continue to innovate and learn not only to survive, but to thrive.
We do not forget our role as the Fourth Estate and in this year’s anniversary issue, we have in-depth stories in our supplement themed, “Midland Courier at 76: The road to survival in this digital age and its role in promoting expanded human rights.”
This selection of stories from our editorial team and select contributors helps shed light to pressing regional and national issues and concerns with global impacts.
As its founders have invited public confidence and support when Midland was born, we also would like to thank the people of the Cordillera and Ilocandia for your continuous enthusiasm in reading Midland all throughout its 76 years, and we keep our heads high for many more years to come.
We close this 76th anniversary’s editorial echoing our founder’s hopeful outlook: “We aim to go somewhere, quite resolutely, but we do not beat our breast saying so.”