Los Baños Times: A Collaborative Community News Platform
Los Baños Times is a collaborative community news platform under the auspices of the Department of Development Journalism- College of Development Communication, UP Los Baños. Various stakeholders in Los Baños and nearby communities are involved as collaborators in the planning, production, and management.
A not-for-profit community media, Los Baños Times has editorial independence. It is not an instrument of political propaganda but of the community’s agenda and interests.
It is deeply committed to being a platform of dialogue in the community. It gives voice to various sectors, particularly those who are underrepresented such as the small-scale farmers and fisherfolk, women, children, the elderly, indigenous people, and people with disabilities. Taking into consideration the changing needs of the community, it informs and educates the community on relevant and important development issues, especially in food security and nutrition, natural resources and environment, education, health and well-being, and entrepreneurship. It promotes local cultural practices. It tells the stories of ordinary men, women, and children, told from their own perspective and with the hope that this would help them have a better quality of life and empower them to build sustainable communities.
History of the Los Baños Times
Los Baños Times, as it is called now, was patterned from Sandiwa, an eight-page fortnightly publication in Pilipino and a laboratory newspaper for a course on community press. Sandiwa first came out in 1972 under the then Department of Agricultural Communications, UP College of Agriculture.
The name Sandiwa means ‘unity of mind, spirit, and idea’. Its guiding philosophy is “to help in the best possible way in improving the quality of the life of people living in the rural areas, by bringing to them important and latest information about the different aspects of life, particularly those which deal with agriculture and other related endeavors.” With readers from 18 towns in Laguna, Rizal, Batangas, and some parts of Manila and Quezon City, Sandiwa published stories on community events, regular columns on farming, livestock raising, homemaking, health and sanitation, and crossword puzzles. In 1978-1980, Sandiwa was beset with financial woes, budget constraints, and lack of staff.
In 1983, Los Baños Times was published as a project of the DEVC 164 (Production and Management of a Community Newspaper) class under Dr. Crispin Maslog of the then Department of Development Communication of the College of Agriculture (CA). Three decades after, Los Baños Times remains as a community newspaper managed and produced every second semester of the academic year by students enrolled in DEVC123 (Production and Management of a Community Newspaper) class under the Department of Development Journalism of the College of Development Communication at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
Los Baños Times has evolved through the years to cater to the needs and interests of its readers. The first magazine supplement In Depth came out in 2006. In 2010 the Los Baños Times officially started its online edition (www.lbtimes.ph) to cater to a wider audience. From here, its social media presence was established with its Facebook (www.facebook.com/lbtimesph) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/lbtimesph) accounts.
On March 2014, Los Baños Times Libre! published its first issue.
We are a collective of educators, learners, and practitioners of development journalism at the Department of Development Journalism (DDJ) at University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) College of Development Communication (CDC).
The DDJ faculty and staff work together with student development journalists and the Los Baños community stakeholders to tell stories of community activities and projects, localize national issues, share the Los Baños culture, and facilitate community dialogue. Every Los Baños Times article is a story of us – a testament to the collaboration between the DDJ-CDC staff, our students, and the members of the Los Baños community. Our print editions and online platforms aim to provide venues for community stories and for local multi-stakeholder perspectives.
More than reporting local development stories and presenting local perspectives, our goal at the Los Baños Times is to capacitate and empower community members to tell their own stories – to take a step forward from being interviewees and sources to becoming storytellers of their community activities and concerns.
To achieve that vision, we have been holding development journalism congress for high school students in the Calabarzon area. Undergraduate junior development journalism students facilitate the sessions in the development journalism congress.
Our development journalism training at the Los Baños Times goes beyond the application of concepts and the production and management of a community newspaper. Our students are trained to act as mentors for younger development journalists-in training and share what they have learned from their reportage courses.
A network of Los Baños Times community collaborators will be established from the development journalism congress participants. This pool of collaborators will report on their school and community activities and issues. In exchange, they will be mentored by the Los Baños Times staff and will be given access to our newsroom facilities.
Aside from establishing a network of student collaborators, we have also been working on building a network of community stakeholders. Members of this network will represent various sectors in the Los Baños community such as the local government unit (LGU) offices, line agencies, research and development organizations, non-government organizations (NGOs), transport organizations, farmers associations, and volunteer groups, among others.
The network of community collaborators will facilitate dialogue and a more efficient sharing of information between and among stakeholders. Representatives from these stakeholder groups will collaborate with the Los Baños Times to tell stories of their projects and activities. As with the network of student collaborators, the Los Baños Times will train community collaborators in telling their own development stories.
We, at the Los Baños Times, are for facts based, community-centered, solution-driven, and process-oriented storytelling.
Scope. The Los Baños Times Editorial Policies extend to all forms of content or material published and/or posted in all its community news platforms and covers all stages of story development, from data gathering to publication.
Ethics. The Los Baños Times strictly subscribes to the Philippine Press Institute (PPI)’s Journalists’ Code of Ethics, with emphasis on fair and honest dealing with all parties involved in the material or content development.
The Los Baños Times staff, students, and community collaborators are expected to observe the code. Content contributions from members of the community shall be reviewed and/or modified by the editorial board to conform to the code.
Responsibility. The Los Baños Times editorial board reserves the right to deny publication of any submitted material deemed as inadequately developed content, malicious, obscene, and perceived as threat to public order and community morale and interests
The editorial board will be responsible for ensuring that all content published are in line with the publication’s editorial policies.
Content and credits. The Los Baños Times publishes a wide range of stories relayed in various forms such as articles, photo stories, videos, infographics, and works of art, among others. Creators of such content shall be properly cited in all Los Baños Times platforms. The editorial board makes the decision on the final lineup of articles to be published.
Development-oriented content. All content of the Los Baños shall focus on food security and nutrition, natural resources and management, education, health and well-being, entrepreneurship, and local culture.
Research . Research is viewed as an important aspect of its operations for it to be responsive and relevant to the community. Needs assessment, readership studies, monitoring and evaluation, including effects to the community must be periodically conducted to guide planning, management, production, and distribution.
Writing Principles. We subscribe to Strunk and White’s principles of clear and effective writing in crafting content for our news platforms, emphasizing accuracy, brevity, and clarity in our reports.
Community engagement and diversity of local perspectives. The Los Baños Times actively seeks contributions from community members and experts on various fields. We hold equal regard for various points of view and present multiple perspectives in an issue.
We make sure that community members can benefit from our expertise, facilities, and resources. The Los Baños Times publishes community posts free of charge. Community posts can come in the form of announcements and invitations for agency activities, pleas for assistance in the retrieval of missing family members or properties, membership announcements of local cooperatives and associations, among others.
Student and community collaborators are trained on the basics of storytelling, production skills, and other skills needed to successfully run a community news platform.
Sponsorship and external funding. Being a non-profit entity, the Los Baños Times will accept donations and sponsorships for the sole purpose of sustaining its operations and in accordance with the University rules and regulations. Donations and sponsorships shall in no way hinder the Los Baños Times from realizing its purpose for the community.