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Degree Program Seeks to Professionalize Davao Media

Apr. 15, 2006

By Mai Gevera
Philippine Information Agency

DAVAO CITY Many journalists in the Philippines may have the knack for journalism but the lack of a college degree can be a hindrance to promotions and career development.

Efren Elbanbuena, the director for Southern Mindanao of the the Philippine Information Agency, knows the common concerns, needs, and demands of journalists he has worked with, almost on a daily basis. Aside from dealing and interacting regularly with journalists, he had done research some years back on the educational and professional competencies of journalists in the region. What he found out was not very encouraging: 40 percent of the respondents did not have a college degree.

He recommended at that time that short-term courses leading to Communication Arts, Journalism or Mass Communication must be made accessible to reporters who want to upgrade themselves professionally.

Years later, Elbanbuena conceptualized something close to that suggestion: a distance-learning program especially designed for working media practitioners, to give them a chance to earn a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree, major in Applied Communication. The aim is to formalize their education in the field of communication

The program is a one-year trimester program offered through a combination of online courses and off-campus study. Among the beneficiaries are communication officers of government offices, newspaper and magazine writers, broadcast journalists, and other workers in the same field.

However, only those who have finished the two-year general collegeeducation can avail of the program and must also be engaged in media-related work either in government office or private sector for at least five years.

Elbanbuena shared his idea to the Davao Doctors College, which was the most responsive to the program, he said.

Leticia Competente, Davao Doctors College director, was convinced of the proposed program and so she herself pushed for its development. I believe that it is about time to professionalize our media practitioners by giving them a chance to have that formal degree, she said.

Under the program, the journalist-beneficiary can be tapped to deliver lectures and at the same time come up with modules for the students, using his expertise in media work as a well-spring of ideas.

The subjects are highly specialized and could be very useful to the practicing journalists, such as news writing and reporting, broadcast journalism, applied visual communication, magazine production, editorial functions, public-relations management, communication research methods, political communication and analysis, peace journalism, and media ethics and accountability.

The course facilitators are the regional and staff directors of the Philippine Information Agency, private media experts, and other experts in their specialized fields.

In a round-table discussion last week with journalists, Davao Doctors College directors and coordinators, everyone seemed excited about the program. I am positive that we will get all the necessary requirements so we could finally start, Competente said. (Mai Gevera/Philippine Information Agency)

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