Farewell, Luis Teodoro
“Teodoro was aware of the power of media to move and influence the reading public through factual, informed articles that expose sociopolitical realities.
Philippine journalism mourns the passing of a veritable giant in the profession, Luis V. Teodoro, poignantly remembered by his many admiring colleagues, associates and students as a genuine statesman of the Fourth Estate, someone akin to an unbowed warrior in the trade and one of the last true press freedom exemplars of his generation.
Teodoro, who died at 81 last 14 March, was a professor of journalism at the University of the Philippines’ College of Mass Communications where he had also served as dean for two successive terms — 1994 to 1997, and 1997 to 2000.
A “deeply saddened” UP President Angelo A. Jimenez called Teodoro a “passionate advocate for press freedom and a tireless defender of the rights of the marginalized. His dedication to his work and commitment to justice will be remembered and celebrated. His legacy will live on through his students, colleagues and the many lives (and minds) that he touched.”
Steeped in the profession he held with much esteem, Teodoro wrote for and penned columns in several news publications including Businessworld, Today, The Manila Times, National Midweek magazine, and Business Mirror; as well as in the broadcast network, abs-cbn News.
Teodoro was also deputy director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, a private, non-profit foundation established in 1989 by Melinda Quintos de Jesus. The CMFR’s programs were focused on press freedom protection and the promotion of professional and ethical values in the practice of journalism as well as media literacy and the creation of awareness regarding the public’s need for factual information.
CMFR executive director Melinda Quintos de Jesus regarded Teodoro as a “pillar of Philippine journalism,” and described his “combined careers as an academic and journalist unparalleled.”
“His place as an esteemed colleague and friend is unique,” she said, adding that “the CMFR will forever uphold his contribution to the work of building a free and independent press and its role in Philippine democracy.”
In October 2014, Teodoro became the founding chair of Altermidya, the network of independent and progressive media outfits, institutions, and individuals founded during the first National Conference of Alternative Media held at the UP CMC.
Teodoro may have leaned towards the so-called alternative media but his thoughts in the many think pieces he wrote in his columns and books (including Mass Media Laws and Regulations in the Philippines; Two Perspectives on Philippine Literature and Society) and CMFR publications (Limited Protection: Press Freedom and Philippine Law, Philippine Press Freedom Primer).
Teodoro’s thoughts were meant to spur transformative reporting among journalists, that is, making the most trivial of matters or — entertainment news, even — able to move readers to probe deeper about issues that shape their lives and the world in which they live.
Journalists — and not just those in the so-called alternative media — should be able to inspire readers to put aside their biases through articles that tug at the emotions even as they stir the mind.
Teodoro was aware of the power of media to move and influence the reading public through factual, informed articles that expose sociopolitical realities, uncover corruption, speak truth to power, and hold the powerful accountable to the people.
Above all, he revered factual accounts that tell readers and the general public how things are in distinct contrast to how they are imagined. For instance, a piece entitled “The Revolution that Wasn’t” which he wrote for his column Vantage Point in Businessworld pointed out that “what makes celebrating EDSA 1986 less than attractive even for the better informed is that, while often described as a “revolution,” it was hardly that.
It did not dismantle or even truly reform the feudal system. The land tenancy anomaly in fact survived it and even emerged stronger than ever.
That “revolution” was no social upheaval either. It did not end the vast inequality, the social injustice, and the poverty that still afflict millions of Filipinos.
Luis Teodoro may have gone on, but his spirit lives on in all those who use the pen to shed light on darkness, making the ignorant amongst us less so and, beyond merely giving a voice to the voiceless, amplifying those whose voices are suppressed by those who wield power in society.
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