The news industry has always been characterized by cutthroat competition and the digital revolution has only intensified the race to bring the freshest news and information to the public. Visayas’ biggest newspaper, SunStar Cebu, knew this from the start, and didn’t waste time to digitally transform its newsroom to adapt the fast changing demands of its millions of readers.
At the helm of this evolution is Mildred Galarpe, digital media director of SunStar Publishing Inc., who said that the newspaper has long been ahead of the game in terms of digitalization.
“SunStar was the first media company who shifted from typewriters to computers. Jesus B. Garcia, our past Chairman and the Secretary of Transportation during the Ramos administration, had this vision of technology being the game-changer in the media industry. The first digital transformation of the newsroom was from our traditional typewriters to computers,” relayed Galarpe.
This was only the beginning. With the advent of the internet, SunStar Cebu thought of a novel way of bringing the distinctly Cebuano celebration of Sinulog to the masses: through live-streaming.
“We live-streamed Sinulog about 15 or 12 years ago. We already had the website at that time and around 60 to 70 percent of visitors are from abroad because internet penetration here in the Philippines was still low. There’s a chatbox when we go live where we can see the comments and we got feedback immediately. That’s the start of our webcast,” Galarpe said.
Being the first news outlet in Visayas to livestream the event, SunStar Cebu led the way in using technology to deliver news. Today, SunStar Cebu has several webcast shows, spanning news, entertainment, medical advice, and local barangay issues.
Converge-powered election coverage
During the last elections SunStar Cebu was able to mount a broadcast-style coverage via Converge internet. For the first time, SunStar was able to do live coverage of the elections with digital connectivity to the studio of the publication. This style of news coverage puts it at par with TV networks, with the added bonus of interacting with netizens.
“It’s like we were a TV network doing it, and we’re doing it real-time at a very minimal cost. We just had a good, solid internet connection like Converge. That’s one of the reasons why it was seamless with a very stable internet on that day,” Galarpe said
Social media is the next frontier for SunStar Cebu as it continues on its digital transformation journey. It has already gained more than 2 million followers in its Facebook page, where it uploads content hourly of news and entertainment. It’s also on TikTok, where it shares videos of viral trends, news, showbiz, and sports.
Digitalization did not only change how people consumed the news but it changed the way it’s being reported too.
From the side of the SunStar Cebu reporters, the immediacy of the news became even more urgent: the time to press was no longer set, every minute you can publish news online.
“Every minute is a deadline. The moment you get your story, the deadline is right away because there is that demand for information right away. You have three publications too: social media, the web, and print publication. It’s more challenging and more interesting for journalists nowadays,” Galarpe noted.
Data-Driven News Coverage
At SunStar Cebu, even the prioritization of the news is driven by technology. In the news desk, digital tools are used to monitor which stories are gaining attention, thus giving reporters and editors a guide on how to package and pursue stories.
This type of news creation does away with the guesswork of which stories readers demand, as technology can already point out the trend.
“Digital tools are very much used in the newsroom to guide us in pursuing and packaging our stories. It’s more science-bound now just like the performance of reporters, in that we can see if their story is gaining traction or not,” shared Galarpe.
Mildred Galarpe, digital media director of SunStar Publishing Inc. shares how Sunstar has always set the bar for news reporting in Cebu.
SunStar stays ahead by embracing digitalization and exploring new and creative ways of storytelling that resonate with the wider community.
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