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SUNSTAR Cebu, one of the leading media outfits in the province of Cebu, held the second virtual run of its 15th Reaching out to Future Journalists Forum, which aims to equip participants with knowledge on how to use data and technology in new media reporting.

This year, over a hundred journalism and communication students, professors, and practicing communicators attended the forum, which marked the celebration of Cebu Press Freedom Week 2021.

PLDT, Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc., together with PayMaya, were there with SunStar Cebu and the forum a total success.

Max Limpag, journalist and co-founder of InnoPub Media, encouraged the participants to use data in enriching their reporting, adding that knowledge on data appreciation and processing as part of reporting would help them become better journalists. He also shared digital tools useful for journalists, including tools for text editing, personal database, and transcribing.

Another panelist, Manila Bulletin Tech Editor Wilson Chua, assured the young communicators that data analysis is easy and fun to do. “Simply having data is not enough. Insights must be generated via patterns, charts, and visuals,” he said, adding that this approach has a powerful impact, especially in the context of current pandemic reporting. He shared how network graph analysis can help pinpoint areas where the virus may originate and spread, helping authorities control borders and prioritize strategic areas.

The speakers also discussed the impact of new technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the newsroom. Limpag said that the new technology does not displace the human workforce but enhances them instead.  “AI enhances journalists by allowing them to perform other vital functions such as analytics, deep reporting, and interviewing people,” said Limpag.

The person who will succeed is not the person who is worried about AI, but the person who can embrace and work with it and come up with a better service or skill set. Our world is now increasingly becoming complex, and simple solutions do not exist. What we need is a collaboration with other people, the community, and the technology,” Chua said. “There is still a need for great communicators for content creation, crisis management, blogs, etc. We still need creative people that AI would not necessarily be able to replace anytime soon,” he added.

Despite the grim situation faced by the media industry amid the pandemic, truth-telling and protecting press freedom must continue. And celebrating Cebu Press Freedom amid the global health crisis is a manifestation of the passion and dedication of the people working in this industry,” says Marylou Gocotano, Manager of Smart Group Corporate Communications-VisMin.

PLDT and Smart have been supporting this annual celebration for the past two decades. Despite the changes brought about by the pandemic, PLDT and Smart are still one with the entire Cebu media community in helping them exercise press freedom and continue reaching out to future communicators.

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