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Three Instances When Journalists Became Subjects of the News

Indeed, Philippine media has come a long way since Presidential Decree No. 191.

On May 11, 1973, when the Philippines was several months into martial law, then President Ferdinand Marcos signed Presidential Decree No. 191, creating the Media Advisory Council (MAC).

As a replacement of the Mass Media Council, MAC was where print, radio, TV, and telecommunications facilities applied for a Certificate of Authority to Operate, “provided, however, that the said Certificate of Authority shall not become valid and effective until approved by the President of the Philippines,” said the decree.

A year later, MAC was abolished, and in its stead came the Philippine Council for Print Media. This was succeeded by the Philippine Press Council in 1987, which was formally founded by the Philippine Press Institute in 1993.

Also Read: Pope Francis prays for media workers who ‘work tirelessly’ amid pandemic

Indeed, media has come a long way since those early years, so much so that, through advancements in technology and social media, ordinary citizens have become journalists—and journalists are now the subject of their story.

Here are three such instances in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic:

Joseph de los Reyes

Photo from GMA Public Affairs Facebook page

He was the first known member of media to succumb to COVID 19

On April 3, GMA Public Affairs announced on Facebook the passing of Joseph, a freelance director of photography for Kapuso shows Wagas, Tadhana, Karelasyon, Inday Will Always Love You, and Sahaya. He would have been 33 years old this May 19. “Our deepest and heartfelt condolences,” said the post. “Salamat sa magagandangalaala.”

Howie Severino
Video screenshot from I-Witness/

He survived COVID-19 and made a documentary of his experience

The award-winning broadcast journalist never thought he would contract the novel coronavirus—until he began to experience the telltale signs: a fever and pneumonia. Diagnosed with COVID-19, he was confined for 11 days, and with the help of his assigned nurse, Gabriel “Gab” Lazaro, put together Ako Si Patient 2828, a 30-minute documentary of his journey from illness to recovery.

“Frontliners are often and rightfully credited with saving lives,” he told “But my case shows they can also save your mind and morale just by being there keeping you company; and in one rare instance, collaborating on a creative endeavor that became an I-Witness documentary.”

Jun Veneracion and Chino Gaston

Video screenshot from Reporter’s Notebook: COVID-19: The Unseen/GMA Public Affairs YouTube Channel

They leave home to be where the stories are.

In the beginning of The Unseen, a 28-minute documentary featured in the GMA Public Affairs show Reporter’s Notebook, reporter Jun Veneracion is seen packing a small suitcase to live in a condo building where he, fellow reporter Chino Gaston, and a team of cameramen will reside during their coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Living away prevents them from spreading the highly contagious virus to their loved ones; it also gives them an all-access pass to the lives of frontliners and families whose members died but could not be treated for COVID-19-like symptoms because they were not officially diagnosed. Together with colleague Maki Pulido, broadcast journalists like Jun and Chino give us an up-close-and-personal view of the sacrifices and victories experienced by Filipinos during a pandemic.

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