Our batch of staff and editors at The LaSallian belonged to an era that we may now describe as an infant in technology.
As a staffer of the Menagerie section for two years, I submitted my articles in print-out and diskette. In 1998, when I became University editor, I carried more diskettes from my reporters. The guys carried the bulky computers from our SPS office to the apartment where we did our press work.
Laptops were very expensive then. Internet connection was slow and intermittent. Hotmail was still the hottest mail address. Mobile phones were gaining popularity and it became useful when contacting reporters.
The national election had just wrapped up, and the country was preparing for the presidency of Joseph Estrada. This had an effect on the Lasallian community. Estrada had tapped DLSU President Bro. Andrew Gonzalez to head the Department of Education, Culture and Sports, which Bro. Andrew accepted.
Twelve years later, President Noynoy Aquino would get another DLSU President, Bro. Armin Luistro, to lead the renamed Department of Education.
Our photo staff covered Estrada’s inauguration at Luneta Park. One said she felt goosebumps hearing the President’s speech in Filipino. “Walang kaibigan, walang kumpadre, at walang kamag-anak!” Estrada promised.
On campus, construction was almost finished at the Enrique Razon Sports Center. More construction would be done, not just in the campus but around it for condominiums. Starbucks arrived too late for our batch.
It was a victorious time for the DLSU basketball team. In 1998, the men’s team became champion and held the title for four years until 2001. The women’s team became champions too from 1999 to 2001. These made our Sports section at The LaSallian very popular.
As with those who spent most of our time in the school paper, I enjoyed my experience at the campus publication. It was not just the work but the friendships built, which last until today. The skills I learned, from writing to editing to layout, served me well when I embarked later on a career in community journalism.
That time, editors had to layout our own pages as well. Aldus Pagemaker was the software of choice, years before it became Adobe InDesign. It was also the time we revised the title of “Art Editor” to “Art & Graphics Editor,” after Peejay Canlas introduced his staff to the wonders of Photoshop. Thereafter, our Computer Science classmates joined us at The LaSallian.
I spent more time at our third floor SPS office than in Gokongwei building, my “home” as a computer science student.
The LaSallian attracted students from various colleges. We had staff taking up engineering, computer science, economics, business administration, liberal arts. We were all drawn towards fulfilling our passions, whether in writing, drawing or photography. A few in our batch have happily succeeded in making a career out of their art.
As Associate Editor in 1999, I organized training sessions for the staff. I remember getting nervous- cold calling Mr. Quinito Henson, an esteemed sports columnist at The Philippine Star and an alumnus of The LaSallian. Could he possibly give the staff a talk on sports reporting and writing? He gladly did. We were all inspired by his humility and willingness to share his knowledge, experience, and techniques.
Looking back, though we were not cocky, we felt we knew it all. Perhaps it comes with being a young campus journalist, though that is not meant to be a generalization. You look out for what you’re interested in, without much thought about whether they would be read. We debated on articles and themes that may or may not be fluff.
In fact, there is no dilemma between giving readers what they want or what they need. It should be both. A newspaper exists not just to serve the people they report on or the journalists’ interests or advocacies. It should inform, provoke, enlighten and entertain, all in one package.
We were one of the last of an era. The Internet had yet to make a significant impact on our lives. We did not grow up on Google, Facebook, or Twitter. To The LaSallian folks, this era also meant belonging to the Old English font used in the masthead before it was updated to Times New Roman.
Soon we would welcome another millennium.
Two years after graduation, I decided to return to my hometown of Davao City. I joined a newly opened community paper and worked there for some five years.
I thought I had many things figured out because of all that I had learned from The LaSallian. But as they say, reality bites. Whether outside covering lifestyle and news events or inside the newsroom surviving amidst the pressure and difficulties of a start-up, I gradually reined in my idealism. I could not see news the same way again. A friend once chided me for thinking conspiracy theories while reading the news.
At the least, I was learning to inspect what media outlets were feeding me, instead of just eating them without a look; news sources, especially: What is their agenda? What’s in it for them?
Analyzing these is much easier now because of the many media outlets and ways to verify the news.
The challenge for TLS
With the advances in technology, this generation of The LaSallian staff has many opportunities to become a better school publication. The constants do not change: quality, relevance and readership, but the ways have expanded.
Fifty years ago, we started as a newspaper. Today, we can be more than that. With a website finally launched, we are now online. That means we can inform students about what’s happening at school soon after it happened.
Readers won’t have to wait two weeks to know why DLSU lost or won in the UAAP. Online, The LaSallian has the potential to showcase more of the staff’s talent. More photo essays, web-only content, even video specials. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can help The LaSallian not just connect but interact with readers.
The goal is to become an essential part of the community and in students’ college experience. We forget that school is not just about the administration and student leaders. That’s the big picture, and one that must be written about.
There is another picture, smaller in scale but more personal. It is of ordinary students – people like the staff – who engage in various student activities and who have their own opinions and concerns.
Each generation is formed by the prevailing trends and events of their period. As part of The LaSallian, it is our privilege to record our own place and time at DLSU, and our challenge to capture the spirit of our era.
Debbie A. Uy was Associate editor of The LaSallian in school year 1999-2000. Prior to that, she was University editor. She started as a Menagerie writer in 1996. She completed her MA in Journalism in 2010 as a fellow of the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University. She is a former editor of a local paper in Davao City