BACOLOD CITY – The Visayan Daily Star (VDS), one of the pioneering newspaper outlets here, has officially ceased its operations effective October 16 after 38 years.
At least 31 employees from the editorial, marketing, and printing departments were affected by the closure. The newspaper covers stories in Bacolod, Negros Occidental, and Negros Oriental.
It was in late July when news broke out about the impending closure of the media outlet amid the difficulties that the management was facing brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a Facebook post, Marchel Espina, a reporter of the paper, said they were shocked when they were informed about it, although she personally knew the paper was already having trouble, but didn’t realize it was that dire.
Espina said the management cited two reasons for the closure – first was that the print media has passed its threshold of viability and continues to be outdated following the emergence of the internet in the media market, and second was the pandemic, which dealt a “final blow” to the already struggling paper.
“We were initially told that we won’t have jobs anymore by end of July. We insisted that the workers be given a 30-day termination notice as a courtesy so we will have time to look for new jobs,” Espina said.
After series of meetings with the employees with the hope of coming up with better options just to continue operations, the management still led to a decision to have it closed by the end of August.
But September came, and they were still working. They received the termination notice on the second week of that month, and were told that their last day of work will be on October 16.
Espina said that, in the termination letter, the management told them that they will be paid 7.5 days per year of service as a separation pay, calling it a “win-win solution.
But it was still uncertain when the employees would get their separation pay.
“Up until now, it was not clear if when they will release our separation pay, or if ever they will pay us at all,” Espina said.
“I do understand that the pandemic has caused the imminent death of the newspaper business. I just don’t understand why it felt that each one of us was thrown out of the moving bus, and was crushed to death by the incoming train,” Espina said. “We were out of a job, we have no money at hand, and there is a raging pandemic,” she added.
She said all the employees were hoping and praying that the management could find it in their hearts to settle everything they owe to them as soon as possible.
“We worked hard for it. It is our money,” she said.
“For me, VDS will not become the institution that it is today if not for the dedicated journalists behind it. I will bring with me that same integrity and dedication as I continue my journey as a journalist,” Espina said.