Journalists of the Year Honored by Metrobank Foundation

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Metrobank Foundation Inc. and Probe Media Foundation awarded Howie Severino of GMA 7, Marites Vitug of Rappler, and Nancy Carvajal of Philippine Daily Inquirer as this year's Journalists of the Year last October 22 at the Metrobank Plaza Auditorium ( L-R: Twink Macaraig, Probe Media Foundation Trustee; Dr. Antonio S. Abacan, Jr., Metrobank Group of Companies, Vice Chairman; Hon. Conchita Carpio-Morales, Ombudsman, Office of the Ombudsman; Hon. Artemio V. Panganiban, Former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of the Philippines; Horacio "Howie Severino of GMA 7; Marites Vitug of Rappler; Nancy Carvajal of Philippine Daily Inquirer; Ms. Anjanette T. Dy Buncio. Senior Vice President, Metrobank Foundation, Ms. Cecilia "Cheche" Lazaro, Founder, Probe Media Foundation, Mr. Aniceto M. Sobrepreña. President, Metrobank Foundation; Mr. Fabian S. Dee, President, Metrobank)

One month after their announcement as winners of the 2015 Metrobank Foundation Search for the Journalists of the Year (JOY), three journalists par excellence were feted in an awarding ceremony last October 22 at the Metrobank Plaza in Makati City with Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno as the Guest of Honor and Speaker.

The three (3) winners are: (1) Maria Teresa "Marites" D. Vitug, editor-at-large of Rappler; (2) Horacio "Howie" G. Severino, news anchor and Vice President for Professional Development of GMA Network, Inc.; and (3) Nancy C. Carvajal, senior reporter of The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The Search for JOY recognized excellence in Philippine journalism across all media platforms—television, radio, print, and online. With the theme, "Shaping the Nation through Powerful Stories", the Search honored Filipino journalists whose excellent storytelling has contributed to positive social change and in building the nation and have practice their career in influencing and developing their audiences towards constructive growth.

"The Journalists of the Year Search aims to be consistent with the other programs of the Metrobank Foundation that serve as opportunities to motivate and enhance the capability of key sectors in our society to contribute to the goals of social development and nation-building.  It was another significant step that we took as it encourages journalists to become responsible in the delivery of news and also to strive for excellence in their profession, "said Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto M. Sobrepena.

First as nominees, semi-finalists and eventually as awardees, Carvajal, Severino and Vitug underwent a tedious three-step evaluation process composed of a review of their stories and two interview sessions. The Final Board of Judges was chaired by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales with members— Commission on Elections chairperson Andres D. Bautista; Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) chairperson Dr. Patricia B. Licuanan; Ateneo de Manila University president, Father Jose Ramon T. Villarin, SJ; and Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation president Carmencita T. Abella.

Probe Media Foundation Inc. (PMFI), project partner and implementer congratulated the 2015 Journalists of the Year and shared some insight on the Search. "This time around, we introduced a new layer in the already rigorous selection process. Where before a Screening Committee would create a shortlist based solely on the merits of the submitted works, now a panel composed of  respected journalists got to grill those on the shortlist about their process and their methods.  Were they ethical? Were they professional? How much of that report was your work and not your editor's or executive producer's? Such things aren't readily apparent from just reading or watching a journalistic piece. We're pleased to add this much-needed dimension of scrutiny that can only add more prestige to the Metrobank JOY awards," said Cheche L. Lazaro and Twink A. Macaraig, President and Trustee, respectively of PMFI.

Vitug, Severino and Carvajal each received Php 300,000 cash prize and a special medallion "Pamukaw", a masterpiece of renown sculptor and 2011 Metrobank Foundation Prize for Achievement in Sculpture (MPAS) awardee Priscillano "Jun" R. Vicaldo. The medallion shaped like a rock and has an eye at the center to represents journalists as observers and watchdogs. The spiral symbolizes the stories that journalists have written and produced following the journalistic process: research, coverage, data gathering, production, editing, vetting, and publishing or broadcast. The surrounding radiating lines represent the splash and ripples that these stories have impacted on people's lives and societal transformation. 

The Awardees were also conferred the title "Metrobank Foundation Fellows in Journalism". Via the Foundation's Fellowship Program in Journalism, they will have the opportunity to share their expertise and experience through the conduct of lectures before identified audiences in Metro Manila and other regions of the country in 2016.

The Search for JOY is conducted every 2 years. The first edition of the JOY Search in 2013 awarded Jarius Bondoc of The Philippine Star, Malou Mangahas of PCIJ, and Jiggy Manicad of GMA Network. It would be remembered that back in 2001, MBFI partnered with the Asian Institute for Journalism and Communication (AIJC) in the conduct of the Search for Outstanding Journalists (SOJ). Recipients then were Sheila S. Coronel (print), Jessica A. Soho (broadcast), and the late Armando J. Malay, Sr. (Distinguished Leadership in Journalism).