CyberPress, also known as the IT Journalists Association of the Philippines, is the pioneering organization of IT writers in the country established in 1996. You may contact the organization's president, Jing Garcia (jing.garcia [at] gmail.com) or Melvin Calimag (melvsgc [at] yahoo.com).
CyberPress: Covering the 21st Century’s Cutting Edge
By Enrique A. Suarez, Charter Member
Posted on January 15, 2006
This year, CyberPress is celebrating its 10th Anniversary.
The Information Technology Journalists Association of the Philippines or CyberPress saw its official birth in mid-1996 with then- President Fidel Ramos inducting in Malacanang the Charter members and officers led by founding president Sam Jacoba.
But if one were to follow a more liberal interpretation, the CyberPress would be close to two decades old already. For the trade publication that started it all first rolled off the presses late 1985.
This writer prefers the more liberal interpretation. For it would reflect the spirit of the word. And also the true meaning of what a press corps is: a body of journalists regularly covering a beat. In this case, the world of information and communications technology.
In 1994, TODAY became the very first broadsheet to regularly publish an ICT section. In between those nine years, two more trade publications saw birth. Among these was the magazine, PSICOM, sister publication of Philippine IT Update.
With TODAY leading the way, other broadsheets followed suit putting out regular ICT sections and their editors assigning reporters to cover the beat. At present, every broadsheet now has an IT section.
The ICT trade publications have also continued to flourish. The successful yin and yang between the broadsheets and trade publications vis-à-vis the CyberPress is attributable to the nature of the beat covered. It also offers a rich lode of material for a wide variety of readers. Hence, several different kinds of readership niches that can be served by different kinds of newspapers and magazines.
This media yin and yang – which also has some representation from broadcast—likewise reflects a phenomenon brought about by the Information Age. First noted by Alvin Toffler, among the gurus who pioneered the study of social changes brought about by ICT, this is the demassification of media.
Which also explains why the CyberPress is a heterogeneous, and not homogeneous, corps. In turn, this heterogeneity has influenced its journalistic culture. Camaraderie exists among its members. But there is also a keen spirit of competition among them. Within each ICT reporter is the constant striving for a unique angle to each story he or she files.
Yet, such striving is also a throwback to the best in traditions of the pre-martial law Philippines press. It echoes as well the idealism that animated those who wrote for the alternative press immediately after the Ninoy Aquino assassination and before EDSA I.
But while its culture emulates the best in Philippine journalism’s past, the nature of coverage by its members gives a preview of possibilities for Philippine journalism’s future. Not only in the use of tools to gather and write their stories, but also in the reportorial issues they must tackle as they practice their craft.
One such issue is ensuring the credibility of the New Media brought about by the global spread of the Internet and the explosion of new devices that can connect to it. This is still a work in progress and mostly with no end.
Still another issue is shaping the evolution of traditional print and broadcast media as they interface with New Media: ensuring that access to timely information—a strategic resource this 21st century—will always be available to all Filipinos.
If the CyberPress’ immediate past is its future prologue, the members of this emergent press corps have shown they are capable of meeting these challenges. As they cover the cutting edge of the 21st century, they shall also shape it—most especially the journalistic craft which must now reinvent itself for the new needs of a new era.
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