High Stakes of a Rare Medium

The year was 2011. The organizing committee of the National Schools Press Conference facilitated the first-ever collaborative desktop publishing competition in Puerto Princesa City. After hours of digging into the hidden realms of Microsoft Publisher, my team and I from Region XIII were able to come up with a four-page newsletter that in my innately humble mind, could put Time Mag and The Inquirer out of business.

More than eight years later, with stints to lead a student publication from high school to college to postgraduate studies, that same sense of pride for a tangible masterpiece is now at its all-time low. With the advent of social media and the rise of paperless information dissemination, hard copy releases of newspapers and magazines are now immensely undervalued. From the time I started as a student journalist, I have seen a myriad of hidden creativity and resourcefulness among the students I serve with regards to how they make DIY projects out of the pages of paper that we have brainstormed for months and sacrificed academics for. From beautifully handcrafted origamis to “organic”, eco-friendly mousepads, my eyes would feast on wasted efforts just hours after the student publication team distributed our new hard copies.

Let me be clear though, this is not a roast. As much as I would like to defend those lifeless pieces of pressed tree barks with black and white words, I must admit to the undeniable fact that there is a high-risk, low reward setting for the traditional medium of information. Weeks before they read through the News section, students already got their daily dose of news from the internet. The Opinions may be full of well-researched nuggets of thoughts from student writers but social media will never be short of self-proclaimed analysts on comment sections, which I think is social media’s greatest advantage—it lets people realize that their voices are heard. Now, who would want to bring a newspaper when you can just immerse yourself with info and express yourself from your devices? What else do print media have to offer? Nearly six centuries after Gutenberg started the Printing Revolution, are hard copy releases even worth it?

In my mind, the battle between traditional media and social media has already ended. It does not take clairvoyance to imagine that this downward trajectory of traditional media will, sooner or later, hit rock bottom. But even if the transition is inevitable, an intellectual community that reads would still be unparalleled. The tangible pages of tabloid is still an epitome of hard work, dedication, and passion of student journalists who are committed in showcasing masterpieces not just for trending hits and Facebook likes but as a way to express and inform.

This year, Liyab have released a mini-tabloid with a more “portable” size yet equally informative and entertaining than its predecessors—perfect for reading, paper planes and mousepads. Now we wait for the verdict. Will ink be retained on paper or will Mark Zuckerberg feed off our pockets next year? Time will tell.

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