This paper that you are reading is 114 years old. It survived a century of feisty editors, deadline-burdened writers, stressed out advisers, angry administrators, passive batches of staffers, sections of errata, heated post-mortems, delayed issues, complaining teachers, apathetic students, and the readers who make this spread the sheets to their seats after the Parada Sillimaniana. This paper prevailed even after World War II and Martial Law. Truly, the years have become evidence that the freedom of the campus press cannot easily be suppressed. It thrives. But when it doesn’t, it survives.
Almost every year, majority of the Weekly Sillimanian (tWS) editorial board and writing pool consist of students from the College of Mass Communication (CMC). The media skill and journalistic spirit needed to responsibly run a weekly newspaper primarily comes (and ideally should come) from the college.
Correspondingly, a Mass Com student/tWS staffer gets to experience how tangible classroom concepts and theories are, as they are all applied and tested in the tWS life.
I was a freshman Mass Com student in 2010 when I first joined tWS as one of its feature writers. I carried the campus journalism zeal from the National Schools Press Conference culture in elementary and high school. But such a background did not guarantee a flawless start at tWS.
I finally did away with phrases like “terminological inexactitude” and started using more often simple words like “wrong” instead – which gives the same meaning, but epitomizes brevity. I made this progress when I reached my sophomore year in the News Writing class of Ms. Celia Acedo. I noticed a substantial difference in my way of thinking and writing – a move from high school literary voice to a learning journalistic voice.
I remained a tWS writer that year, and all the more I saw how tWS – independent from any college in the university – was a crucial laboratory in achieving CMC’s mission as a journalism school; and how CMC’s mentorship methods remain a chief factor to the quality of tWS. Such that, if the quality of tWS deteriorates, one is not insane to deduce that CMC may be doing something wrong, or that it should be doing better. Congruently, when tWS becomes bolder, fairer, and more accurate, it wouldn’t be unfair to give CMC credit for it.
Media is the “watchdog of the government”. The watchdog only barks alarmingly when it warns about deviants of order, such as thieves and trespassers. It also barks when it is not properly fed, but knows how to comfort when someone is wronged, and woofs joyfully when someone does right. This is tWS’ role to the student government and to the university administration. tWS is Silliman’s watchdog for the students.
A university – especially a mass communication college – that emboldens a healthy exchange of ideas and constructive criticisms is where a campus newspaper thrives in being truthful but responsible. A campus press prospers in the pressures of supporting strong opinions with strong facts. But it will never mature if it is told to simply announce events and developments, and never question why changes exist in the first place.
A campus paper must be treated as an avenue to exercise critical writing rather than mere pages of technical writing.
tWS grows from loving guidance and discipline by teachers and administrators. Congruently, the university grows when it welcomes the questions and opinions from its alumni and students. Their dissenting opinions and questions do not come out of nowhere. Hence, their opinions must not be taken against them. Instead, they must be vehicles of self-reflections.
A paper that settles in surviving one week at a time without aiming to thrive is not a progressing paper, but a digressing one. A college and a university that allow its student publication to digress are not progressive either. CMC, tWS, and the Silliman University (SU) administration must realize that while they may not see each other eye to eye in everything, they are all allies and co-workers in achieving the mission and vision of the university: to provide and attain a whole person education anchored on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Just as the Lord corrects those He loves, I hope that the three – SU admin, CMC, and tWS – corrects in love, and accepts reproof as catalysts of growth. Only then can progress be made. Only then can coming out weekly be a gesture of thriving, not just surviving.
*The writer is a graduate of the Silliman University College of Mass Communication. During her term as Editor-in-Chief of The Weekly Sillimanian (2012-2013), she deviated from the tradition of EICs writing the final column at the end of the school year for reasons that no longer exist. This should have been the point of her column, had she written it three years ago.