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Republic Asia: Where we are is who we are

by Leila Salaverria

Recently updated on July 17, 2023 03:08 pm

IT began like a movie in his mind.

Communication and Digital Strategist Bran Ferrer Reluao woke up one day dreaming of a news website.

He has seen websites and websites, but over time he noticed that they looked more and more like the traditional media. He wanted something more. He wanted something different. He wanted something radical.

He wanted a news website manned by veteran journalists, all right, if only to keep the quality of the old, keep things reliable, accurate and authoritative.

The old ones know the rules of the news. Yet the young ones, like him, know the Social Media platforms. Like no other.

How to tell the news at a time when today’s young readers and viewers are radically redefining the landscape, the old societal fabric, in the words of Eero Brillantes, another communication strategist, into something where connectivity, community, and inclusivity have become the new normal.

By now, for instance, everyone has heard of TikTok, the newest kid in the social media big league, which has surpassed records of hits and likes set by its predecessors.

Tiktok has been grabbing the public’s attention from other platforms, reports one of our millennial writers. It is a medium that seems best suited for that coveted Oprah Aha Moment for anyone who has a smartphone and a creative gumption.

When the Big Boys of Traditional Media were either averse to or aloof from these new platforms, Bran saw the need to use these platforms for the same reason: to inform, educate, to bring the news where it matters most. He sees it as an opportunity. In fact, he sees the birth of a revolution.

I, for one, was once upon a time aloof from the online media. Having been a newsman for the past 40 years, I, we, at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, where I came from, looked at it as our poor cousin, once-upon-a-time lacking in gravitas. I wanted all my stories published in the paper. First.

Times have changed. Digital Media is now taking the lead, taking us all by storm, and we can no longer ignore it. Thanks but no thanks, the pandemic hastened it all.

Over the decades, we had the newspapers, the radio, then later TV, and later the digital media. Of course, one is different from the other.

They come at different times in history. We could easily recall when the printed word came, the advent of radio, and later the black and white TV, then feared that it could demolish the radio, until we got to know high-definition, digital TV.

When you write for the radio, you write for the ear. When you write for TV, you write for the eyes, that is why it is called the visual medium. When you write for the paper, you write for the brains, the paper once labelled as the more intelligent medium.

We want to bring them all together into one.

Bran is a digital native, and knows the digital platforms. He knows how to tap them all, the talent and familiarity of his fellow Millennials and Gen Zs most especially, transform news and information into different forms, into different platforms.

Now, when you write for the digital media, you write for all the senses. And you write for an ever-changing audience, in a fast-pacing world where there is little time to read. To capture them is a great challenge.

To make it a reality, he called Eero and later yours truly to assemble an editorial and digital team for a new website.

We tap an all-Millennial group of reporters, to brilliantly collaborate with Gen Z content creators in what, he envisioned, could be the next cultural revolution.

Getting all our senses, through the hard-wired channels in our brains, in the words of Eero, now the COO, is what young creators have decoded. Mastering the art and science to capture the audience’s short attention span in 15 seconds or less through high content density, that is nothing short of a revolution.

That kind of news media fully utilizing and harnessing the dynamics of multi-media social media platforms, where the audience, the people, especially the young, now undoubtedly get all kinds of information on just about anything under the sun, from news on politics and governance, to neighborhood concerns, about living and loving, about having to work harder and about having to have more fun, or just about themselves, about their own kind–young, capable, receptive, sensitive, sensible, involved but not wanting to be caged.

These people want a news platform that is interactive. Because they want to have a say, they read, they listen, but they too have a story to tell. And they want to tell it. Their way.

Allowing these people to tell their story. That is what we have in mind. And so, Republic Asia was born. Republic Asia is at the center of that challenge: the future of journalism.

It is going to redefine traditional news by harnessing the power of Digital Platforms and the potentials of Civic Journalism. Republic Asia is all about that.

May I introduce you to the rest of our editorial and digital team. Our senior deputy editors Malou Talosig, formerly with Business Mirror, Today newspaper and GMA News, covering foreign affairs; Cecille Villarosa, formerly of PTV News and GMA News, covering the Judiciary, and ; Leila Salaverria, formerly of Inquirer, covering Malacanang, and the Millennial and Gen Z team.

This is our story! Welcome to Republic Asia!

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