Asst. Prof. Aileen F. Macalintal of the Department of Development Journalism (DDJ) was one of the speakers of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism’s (PCIJ) online caravan entitled Investigative Journalism in the Era of Disinformation which ran on September 14, 15, 16, 20, and 22 via Zoom. The culminating forum was live streamed on Facebook.

This was in line with PCIJ’s 2nd National Conference on Investigative Journalism held in November 2021, where four PCIJ fellows with promising story pitches received a P60,000 grant each to pursue their stories. Asst. Prof. Macalintal was one of the recipients of the fellowship grant.

DDJ’s Asst. Prof. Kabzeel Sheba G. Catapang and Mr. Miguel Victor T. Durian were also fellows of the PCIJ conference, while some graduate and undergraduate Development Communication students attended as observers.

2nd National Conference on Investigative Journalism 2021

Under the mentorship of PCIJ Resident Editor Felipe F. Salvosa II, Asst. Prof. Macalintal wrote a two-part investigative report on the rise of loan sharks during the pandemic entitled Easy Loans, Easy Preys.

(READ: Online loan sharks resort to public shaming, privacy breaches and death threats; Regulators need to swim faster than online loan sharks)

She presented her work in the third leg of the caravan on September 16, where she shared her experiences and learnings in crafting her report.

She discussed the struggles of finding and interviewing people who were willing to open up about their unfortunate experiences with Online Lending Apps (OLA). She also lamented how laborious and expensive it is to acquire data in the Philippines.

“…As one who has worked for [foreign] financial media outlets, I reported profits of companies from other countries and the files were free. Pagdating [sa Pilipinas], hindi na,” she said.

She is also one of DDJ’s faculty members teaching DEVC 127: Data Journalism for Development.

She also stressed among the young journalists who participated in the forum about the importance of investigative journalism in the era of disinformation as a tool of resistance and protection of personal freedom.

“[Investigative Journalism] is important as there are so many lies going around… It’s important to push back for the PH press especially if we are to maintain its legacy of being the freest in Asia.” 

Meanwhile, PCIJ Executive Director Carmela Fonbuena, in her talk on the importance of investigative journalism, commented on Asst. Prof. Macalintal’s approach, which is solutions journalism, in which she was able to clearly show that proper regulation of OLAs by authorized government agencies should be imposed in order to prevent the recurrence of abuse.

The online caravan series aimed to urge journalism students and faculty members from all over the country to practice investigative journalism in combating disinformation that threatens democracy. In its five-day run, the caravan invited notable journalists to speak about national pressing issues, share journalistic narratives, and call for community action. (Gerard Laydia)