Al Jazeera and their resource persons for news analysis

Posted on January 11, 2011

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I was watching Al Jazeera the other day, amazed, as usual, at the quality of their news analysis. I love hearing their resource persons speak on current issues. They help me deepen my understanding of issues, and they help me connect their ideas to my own. Often, these resource persons come from the academe and NGOs, but mostly, they are professors from distinguished universities.

This is one of my dreams for the university that I currently work in. I once shared with colleagues during our planning session last year that I envision our university to be the leading knowledge resource in the country. I would like our faculty to take the forefront in ideas–in cultivating, building, implementing and sharing them. Because aside from teaching students, this I believe is also a part of the university’s mission.

This is the reason why U.S. universities take great care to position their faculty members as resource persons for press people to contact.  Based from U.S. university websites I’ve visited, these faculty members have been chosen and trained to deal with members of the media.

Highlighting our faculty members as knowledgeable resource persons will help build the reputation of our university as a knowledge institution.  It is also an indirect way of keeping our university’s name top-of-mind. But more than that, I believe that sharing ideas is a social responsibility. The faculty members may not be teaching students in the classroom during this time, but they sure are imparting knowledge to a broader audience who needs to be guided and informed in order to make sense of societal issues.

No other university in the Philippines, to my knowledge, is implementing this. So if ever, our university is the pioneer.

As an added bonus, this strategy will also hopefully build a better media by helping them make news analysis deeper.

Sadly, though, there are management issues to deal with in the department I work in. It is the first barrier to achieving this dream.  If subordinate and superior don’t see eye to eye, and are not in the same level of thinking and goal-setting, then a good dream cannot turn into reality.  Our department will continue to churn press releases prioritizing events and lifestyle promotions, trumpeting student and faculty achievements, and spreading the word on sports (well, basketball mostly, as can be expected from this basketball-crazed country). There’s nothing wrong with that. However, if we don’t (or won’t) elevate our communications and public relations paradigm, then the core values of excellence and magis we are so proud of become degraded as mere lip service.

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