Towards the Digital Age of News: Students and Faculty on Keeping Aware of Information

Towards the Digital Age of News: Students and Faculty on Keeping Aware of Information

June 16, 2022

By Mitchell Jared De Silva, UPCM 2025

From global matters such as the pandemic to the recent national and local elections, the past few years have truly been a series of historic events. With pressing issues surrounding daily life, information awareness and its dissemination have never been more crucial. News distribution experienced a faster spread and a wider reach with the emergence of online platforms. However, its integration also introduced the prevalence of unchecked data. The once-presumed easy access to accurate information has now become an active pursuit.

Media plays a crucial role in raising awareness for social, political, and economic events around the world; its influence on daily life is one we must understand.

Current events are not limited to politics and the immediate persons involved. Instead, it consequently affects different domains, such as education and medicine. In the digital age of communication, an individual’s proper discernment of available data has become an apparent duty. The UP College of Medicine students and faculty are no exception here.

Accounts from students of different Learning Units and the current faculty of UPCM reveal varying approaches in selecting trustworthy sources. Here, they share their insights on the significance of information awareness.

Romina Francesca Letaba from UPCM Class 2028 uses different social media platforms, physical copies of daily newspapers, and news video reports to learn about current events. To ensure information is verified, she turns to certified news sources and observes the habit of cross-checking. She shared that being updated is of utmost importance as a medical student. Recognizing that health is multifactorial, she explained, “Health is tied to all sectors in our society in one way or another, and it is our responsibility that we stay aware of our current events because these may or may not have drastic changes or effects on the healthcare field.”

Romina Francesca Letaba from UPCM Class 2028

Viewing social media as a double edged sword, Romina noted that it does not only offer a more efficient means of broadcast but also the spread of unchecked information. Despite the promotion of fact-checking and critiquing references, misinformation is still rampant. She believes that it does not help that politicians and officials can take advantage of the situation for personal gain. Security must also be updated to protect the sites and its users from possible online hacking.

Romina encourages vigilance in reminding the public of the importance of fact-checking and also advocates that it be integrated into the academic curriculum. Most importantly, she stressed that one should take the initiative to correct misinformation to prevent its further spread.

On the importance of information awareness, Maria Katrina Joaquin from UPCM Class 2027 alluded to the UPCM teaching that health is multifaceted, where each facet is affected by the current events. She argued that one cannot serve the people properly if there is a lack of knowledge on current affairs. She is kept informed mainly by browsing through social media platforms and by counterchecking facts through reputable media outlets.

Maria Katrina Joaquin from UPCM Class 2027

She described news dissemination in the country as either dire or reassuring. Both the lack of verification and the fast flow from source to the common person give rise to the quick spread of misinformation. She asserted that the government should address such issues by enacting laws that regulate information being posted without crossing the line of censorship. Most importantly, many of the problems faced could be solved through an improved educational system that would promote the discernment of sources and the habit of fact-checking. She believes that social media is currently being weaponized and everyone must take part in halting its misuse.

“To put it simply, fake news, especially when made with the intention to deceive, manipulate, and misguide people, is no different than a lie,” said Christine Nicole Therese Nicanor from UPCM Class 2025 when asked about the current situation of information dissemination in the country. With the prevalence of false information, she pointed out that the situation is truly heartbreaking because the ones who hold the intention to deceive are the those who have vowed to protect and serve the people. This malpractice has perpetuated a culture of mistrust, lack of accountability, and abuse.

Christine Nicole Therese Nicanor from UPCM Class 2025

Nicole remains critical of information by verifying its source and then comparing reports from different reputable references. She highlighted the significance of reviewing the character, intention, reputation, and the track record of news sources. In cases of publication materials in the form of images, she recommends the use of Google reverse image search to check its validity.

Hoping to improve the information propagation system, she mentioned that the primary sources of news should be determined. Demanding accountability by setting repercussions for people who perpetuate misinformation should also be done. In addition, she hopes that an independent Fact Check Committee be established to monitor circulating information online. Lastly, attributing the prevalence of misinformation today to how the people can easily forget about the past, she emphasized the importance of improving the country’s education system. This improvement may prevent the lack of awareness that ultimately led to people easily changing the narrative and twist the truth.

Hannah Joyce Abella from UPCM Class 2024 is able to keep herself updated on current affairs using her social media and by fact-checking with credible websites. Acknowledging the impact of current affairs to the lives of students, physicians, and their patients; she expressed how important it is to be aware as it will aid in rightfully knowing how to ultimately serve the underserved.

Hannah Joyce Abella from UPCM Class 2024

On the topic of information dissemination, Hannah expressed, “Depending on the stance of the person, social media tends to adjust and show the person what they want to see for those who believe in fake news, this is a dangerous thing.” She believes that the system can still be improved, most especially concerning fact verification. Furthermore, such a challenge can be answered through seminars on media literacy or by prohibiting sources of false information.

Simoune Raphaella Licuanan from UPCM Class 2023 mentioned that dissemination of fake news has been made easier nowadays. She added that it was disheartening that even so-called professionals or experts contribute to the spread of false information, instead of educating audiences.

Simoune Raphaella Licuanan from UPCM Class 2023

Personally, Simoune keeps herself in the loop by scouring through articles on social media and by engaging in conversations with her friends. In verifying information, she examines if the source is reputable and free of biases. She also tries to explore different perspectives on the matter at hand. As a medical student, she believes that it is essential to be informed. “As we always say, #HealthIsPolitical. I think keeping abreast of current events teaches you to stay grounded and lends good insight into patients' and colleagues' circumstances,” said Simoune.

In dealing with misinformation, she believes it stems largely from poor leadership, citing powerful entities that resort to hiring “trolls” that generate fake news to serve their clients’ interests. Improvement can be achieved through honest governance and media coverage. Government agencies should be proactive in publishing correct and evidence-based information so the public will not rely on mere hearsay.

The UPCM faculty members also present varying ways in obtaining information and bear insights on its proper dissemination. Their awareness and take on current affairs can influence their approach in teaching, as well as how they engage with the students.

Dr. Gene Nisperos, an assistant professor from the Department of Family and Community Medicine, primarily refers to Facebook, Twitter, and the television news as his source of current affairs. To ensure access to accurate information, he cross-checks with other credible sources.

Dr. Gene Nisperos, Assistant Professor from the Department of Family and Community Medicine

As an educator, he believes that awareness of current events is essential in teaching and engaging with students. On describing how it affects the way he teaches, Dr. Nisperos expressed, “It is how we converse with our students, how we set the dominant discourse in the perspectives (that we set), and how we correct misleading narratives.” He also highlighted the importance of informed opinions, as it will allow educators to participate in discussions in the proper frame.

He described the information dissemination in the country as doing poorly on two essential fronts, namely promoting correct information and combating false information. To improve this, he cited a change in government leadership as an immediate measure, as he believes that tue current dispensation itself is the biggest culprit in disinformation and malinformation. In the long run, this change will provide an environment fostering empowered people to herald a better education system, better mass media, and better protection of human rights.

A lot of misinformation arises from miscommunication, misquoting the primary source, or misinterpreting the facts,” explained by Dr. Leonard Pascual, a professor from the Department of Anatomy and Neurosciences, on the importance of being aware of current news. Relating it to his field, he shared how clinical thinking is upheld by going straight to the source informant, verifying findings of his colleagues by performing the examination himself, and viewing the results. He mentioned that these actions are the essence of being data-driven and evidence-based, and not merely relying on reports and depending on what someone else analyzed.

Dr. Leonard Pascual, Professor from the Department of Anatomy and Neurosciences

Dr. Pascual keeps himself updated by reading the whole article presented by online newspapers and accessing their social media handles on Twitter. When teaching, he uses current events as a tool to make lectures more relatable to students.

Agreeing on the current efforts to fact check and verify information, he emphasized critical thinking as a means to immunize the vulnerable against disinformation. He explained further that, “The strength of evidence is strongest with what can be shown in plain sight, while unverified facts as well as unvetted claims from anonymous sources must be scrutinized with healthy skepticism, and this can easily be learned by layfolk.”

The predominance of and shift to online platforms have undeniably paved the way for wider and more accessible sources of information. Along with its advantages also came the rampancy of misinformation. Addressing misinformation is not merely limited to individual efforts of following trusted sources and careful content verification, as it extends significantly to established systems and authorities. The promotion of trusted organizations and online pages to verify content like Vera Files and Fact Check Philippines will greatly help in achieving such a goal. When done successfully, it will lead to an environment that fosters correct information and its rightful dissemination. As an institution that heavily values honor and belongs to a field that hinges on verifiable evidence, the UPCM — represented by its students and faculty — is surely to benefit from being informed of the truth.

Despite the benefits of the media, misinformation is rampant. Social media’s duality and the growing consumption of humans of information on these platforms raise the importance of news literacy.