The Muralla’s humble beginnings, and the constant drive to succeed
IT IS QUITE IRONIC that a journalism school managed by a daily broadsheet does not have its own student publication. If other campus papers struggle to defend the rights of the students to free expression, if other student leaders engage themselves in a relentless fight just to be heard, then a school that embraces the importance of press freedom should at least have one.
The founding team of The Muralla realized that, and in 2013, after creating a dummy paper for a school project, they shifted to the creation of a legitimate school paper that represents the interests of the whole student body and of the Filipino youth. They maximized the strengths of the internet, formulating a news site that is critical yet fair, bold and yet at the same time, still very interesting.
But even before its operation, there is always something special about The Muralla, to the extent that some members prioritize it over their academics duties. Students would spend countless hours for the betterment of the site, or for the creation of downloadable magazines in the form PDF files.
Of course we know that it is not a good thing to do, but writing for and managing the paper gives us a sense of fulfillment.
It is different from all the other student publications, not only because the members themselves are actual journalists, reporting on the beats for The Manila Times. It is different, because while we are the official student publication of The Manila Times College, it operates as an entirely different entity, independent of the school and newspaper. But at the end of the day, these institutions stand side by side, promoting responsible journalism and working for the proliferation of the truth.
The content inside The Muralla is a far cry from what usual collegiate student publications cover. When other campus papers would publish internal issues over national concerns, we were, are, and will be at the forefront of relevant news events. Being managed by a major newspaper whose office is a staircase away is always an advantage, but it is one that we do not mind getting the most out of.
“I envisioned The Muralla to be the student publication that was different from other universities in the sense of the format, and also in the editorial direction,” former multimedia editor Nigel Maranan said.
Since then, The Muralla would have countless stories — stories posted on the online site, and other stories of struggles and triumphs that were either made inside the classrooms, on the smoking area, or at the different ‘headquarters’ that we used.
Of course, the main goal of the founding members was to have its own printed copy. There were times, especially in conferences and forums concerning campus publication and press freedom, where the members were asked for a copy of the paper. Students would proudly reply that The Muralla is an online publication, and therefore, there is no need for a printed copy.
“It was always part of our humble vision for the publication, the venue of TMTC students’ free expression, and now it has come to life,” founding editor-in-chief Jhoanna Ballaran told The Muralla.
But yes, at the back of our heads, we badly want a printed copy. We yearned for the day when we can finally frame the maiden issue, and pat ourselves on the back.
This is actually a great time for campus papers and journalism: here we have a broadsheet supporting the free expression of its students. Here we have a company trying to give back by providing an avenue for young voices to be heard.
Problems are a part of a newspaper’s everyday operation. Writers can disagree on things such as ideologies, beliefs and styles. People will fight for their perceived truth. The Muralla is sure to be troubled by even bigger snags in the future.
But as long as the country needs the opinion of the youth, we will move mountains just to write stories, with sheer determination in our hearts and with the uplifting of the Filipino people in our minds. We will be the wall that we have always been, defending the common good and standing as honest witnesses to the events that will shape this country.
“You know, it’s always part of the drill in this vocation called journalism,” Ballaran said. “Just never lose your idealism and passion because it is your fuel to succeed. Keep on innovating!”
Mabuhay ang Muralla! Mabuhay ang kabataang mamamahayag!