Editorial: SunStar at 40: Breaking boundaries

It’s been a tumultuous 40 years—the country rocked by revolutions, scandals and economic turmoil, though grace also came in periods of prosperity and innovation, and the triumph of the human spirit in the face of the most trying challenges.

Since the first issue of SunStar Daily rolled off the presses on Nov. 25, 1982, SunStar has covered the jostling of power seekers, economic and social upheavals, disasters, crime and folly—always seeking justice for their victims.

After all, SunStar Publishing Inc. founding chairman Jesus B. Garcia Jr. imbued the paper with a mission: “to be a ‘refuge’ for the oppressed and the lowly, a voice for those who are not represented in the seats of power, an instrument to curb abuse and injustice.” (Editorial, Nov. 25, 1996)

Black swan events like the 2008 global financial crisis caused by the US housing market crash and the more recent geopolitical conflicts and the Covid-19 pandemic sorely tested both mettle and purse. But like the communities it serves, SunStar Daily (renamed SunStar Cebu in February 2000) soldiered on.

From a newspaper serving a single market in 1982, releasing news only once every 24 hours, SunStar Cebu has broken its traditional boundaries of space and time, reaching audiences beyond its provincial home ground as it delivers news to a global audience as the news breaks.

On the way to becoming this multi-hyphenate information enterprise, SunStar broke the mold when it became the first community newspaper in the Philippines to link community papers nationwide through the SunStar Publications Network in 1995, publish a website in 1996, livestream an event in 2009 and produce a webcast in 2013.

But it hasn’t been a walk in the park, as the media industry itself has been lashed by the Internet and social media juggernaut that has kicked many a legacy title to the curb.

SunStar is staying the course, though. As founding editor-in-chief Pachico A. Seares wrote in the maiden editorial on Nov. 25, 1982: “SunStar Daily was born not in some corporation board room, not by entrepreneurs who had spare money to invest. This paper arose from a dream shared by a number of local journalists—to work for and be a part of a community newspaper which is adequately equipped to serve its readers better.”

“We at SunStar have committed to pour our energy and whatever talent God has given us to match the modern technology that our publishers have provided. We have also dedicated ourselves to the ideals of responsible journalism which includes such basics as fair and accurate reporting, and clear and fearless discussion of the issues that affect the community.”

“In these uncertain times, more than ever, a community newspaper can be a trusted sentinel and guide to its reading public,” Seares wrote in 1982.

This has never been more true than today, when cell phones and Internet access now enable the spread of information, including misinformation, at close to the speed of light, by anonymous actors for nefarious ends.

The years may have passed, but some things will never change. SunStar at 40 remains credible, reliable, committed to the truth.