Inquirer Visayas bureau wins big at 2022 Globe media awards
CEBU CITY — The Visayas bureau of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) bagged two prestigious awards in the 9th Globe Media Excellence Awards (GMEA) which was held online on Friday, May 6.
Connie Fernandez-Brojan, the bureau chief of PDI-Visayas, was named Editor of the Year – one of the only four special awards given by GMEA.
Leo Udtohan, PDI-Visayas’ correspondent in Bohol, received the News Report of the Year for his story “Loon Church in Bohol rises from the rubble.”
Brojan was chosen the top editor in the Visayas by members of the academe, communications specialists, digital marketing executives, and sustainability advocates and officers based on her contributions and influence in the media community and the industry.
She was nominated for the award because of her leadership and reportage of the most pressing and significant issues in the entire Visayas, especially the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the onslaught and aftermath of Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) which wreaked havoc in the Visayas on December 16, 2021.
Aside from Brojan and Udtohan, reporters and correspondents of the Inquirer Visayas bureau were also named finalists in the different GMEA categories.
Its chief reporter, Nestor Burgos Jr., was cited for his three-part investigative story on the plight of 100 Capiz farmers who finally got their land after 24 years.
Burgos Jr., together with Brojan, Carla Gomez, Karlowe Brier, Nestle Semilla, Joey Gabieta, and Leo Udtohan were also named finalists for the News Report of the Year that tackled the aftermath of Typhoon Odette.
Brier was also a finalist in the same category for her story “Negros Oriental communities turn wind energy to electricity.”
Named finalist in the Breaking News of the Year for Digital was Joey Gabieta for his story “Tacloban Mayor Romualdez injected with CoronaVac at home.”
In December 2021, Brojan led the Inquirer Visayas team in gathering and delivering reports to its central office after Typhoon Odette amid the limitations and inconvenience of having to live without water, electricity, and poor phone signal.
She had to literally chase the phone signals and muster all the patience just to deliver the stories.
Among the articles that stood out was “Crisis brings out best in Cebuano,” a feature story she wrote to highlight the resilience of Cebu residents and how they helped each other amid the devastation caused by typhoon Odette.
Brojan wrote about the typhoon victims’ appeal for food, water, and construction materials as well as how Odette derailed tourism recovery in the Visayas – stories that helped transmit the voice of the people to the government.
She also wrote in-depth reports that provided context, background, and analysis on several issues, especially the COVID-19 pandemic.
Inquirer Visayas also came out with a series of stories about a private firm that was accused of falsifying its track record to build the P711.8-million underpass project in Mandaue City.
The story, together with a formal complaint filed by a certain individual, prompted the Department of Public Works and Highways to scrap its contract with the contractor.
Brojan also wrote and edited a special report and related stories about the controversial reclamation projects in Cebu and Negros Oriental which were seen to destroy marine life, the environment, and the livelihood of fisherfolk and shipyard workers.
In editing, she always demonstrated a commitment to accuracy, fairness, and a comprehensive account of events that presents all sides of a story to build credibility for the paper, and trust among its readers.
Even with several recognitions under his name, Brojan remains grounded, saying anyone could be a journalist if given the chance and proper training. Hence, she said, a journalist should never be too proud to the point of abusing his or her position.
Based in Cebu City, she used to be a correspondent of the Inquirer in 1992 and a regular reporter in 1996.
In 2005, she became editor-in-chief of Cebu Daily News, a sister publication of the PDI. Six years later, Brojan returned to the Inquirer Visayas as its bureau chief.
In 2015, the Catholic Mass Media Awards recognized the team effort of the Inquirer in covering Pope Francis’ visit to Eastern Visayas, particularly Tacloban City.
In 2020, Brojan and her team won the GMEA Explanatory-Investigative Story of the Year for Digital for its reporting on the plight of Cebu doctors and nurses amid the fight against COVID-19.
The articles “Cebu City cries out: ‘We need more docs, nurses’” and “Overworked Cebu nurses seek aid as morale drops,” which came out on Inquirer’s front page prompted the government to send more doctors and other health professionals to Cebu and grant financial aid and other incentives to nurses to alleviate their condition.
Aside from writing and editing, Brojan has been active in efforts to raise professional and ethical standards among journalists and media organizations.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Brojan taught news writing and other journalism subjects at the University of the Philippines Cebu to impart her knowledge and experience about the matter.
She also spoke at workshops and training for communication students and held “read-along sessions” with children in the different parts of the Visayas to promote love of reading among kids.
She taught students and journalists to uphold integrity at all times and to shun considerations from sources.
It isn’t a coincidence that Brojan has been in the industry long enough to know the demands of the job and what it takes to stay on top of the game.
Going digital in delivering the news as it happens and across all platforms has been a challenge for many journalists at present.
Brojan is no exception, saying it’s a challenge for her team of about 20 correspondents and contributors from across the Visayas to keep up with the pace of writing for online platforms.
However, she is not one to back down from any challenge. For years now, Brojan has edited stories both for print and online.
“Sink or swim—always run after a story, don’t take no for an answer, make sure your story stands, and stand by your story. Allow your people to grow and don’t see them as a threat,” she shared in an earlier interview with the Cebu Journalism and Journalists magazine.
She also pushes reporters to widen a story’s scope and recognizes an impact in the story that the reporter might not have seen.
Aside from helping in the development and transformation of the industry, Brojan also inspired her peers and helped shape the minds of the media practitioners of today.
While many consider her strict, Brojan has brought out the best in those she taught.
“For me, this is my calling. And what I like most about this job is that learning never stops. No day is the same because you learn new things every day,” she said.
Globe first launched the GMEA in 2012 to promote freedom of the press and media excellence.
The GMEA lauds journalists, bloggers, and social media advocates in the Visayas and Mindanao who have shown excellence in their craft, a commitment to their profession, and have created a positive impact on society.
Entries accepted were stories, photos, and videos that showed the people’s care for the environment, as well as those that delve into positive societal impact, innate care for people, and digitalization.
The categories and winners in this year’s GMEA are the following:
News Report of the Year: Loon Church in Bohol rises from the rubble (Inquirer)
Explanatory/Investigative Story of the Year: Rhick Lars Vladimer Albay (ANCX)
Column of Year: Maria Lourdes “Nini” B. Cabaero (Sunstar Cebu)
Explanatory/Investigative Video Story of the Year for Digital: Erwin Nicavera (SunStar Bacolod)
Photo of the Year for Digital: Amper Campaña (Sunstar Cebu)
Breaking News of the Year for Digital: Morexette Marie Erram (CDN Digital)
Social Media Advocacy of the Year for Digital: Mark Kavin Salomon (CDN Digital)
Best Blog post: Vernon Joseph Go (www.vernongo.com)
Best Social Media Video: John Dale Salazar (Aksyon Radyo Bacolod)
News Report of the Year for Radio: Romeo Subaldo Jr. (Digicast Negros)
News Report of the Year for TV: Patricia Andrea Matheu (MYTV Cebu)
#KwentoNgTagumpay (Community): Patricia Andrea Matheu (MYTV Cebu)
#KwentoNgTagumpay (Individual): Ime Sornito-Sorial (Panay News)
Newsmaker of the Year: Jeony A. Bigay (RMN Bacolod)
Editor of the Year: Connie Fernandez-Brojan (Philippine Daily Inquirer-Visayas Bureau)
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