CNN Philippines’ Archive for Local Art Wiped Clean from the Internet
CNN Philippines closed its doors on Wednesday, January 31, after their parent company Nine Media Corp reported heavy financial losses. Reports stated that Nine Media lost over PhP 5 billion over the lifetime of its CNN franchise, with high advertising periods like the 2022 elections failing to increase their revenue.
For the past few years, many media companies fell victim to closure or heavy losses. International companies like Vice Media and Vox had to reduce their workforce significantly as ad spending on traditional media dropped.
Recently, former CNN employees and contributors reported that the news channel’s online presence was wiped clean from the Internet. And a big part of this archive included its extensive coverage of the Filipino art community. While you can still find much of it on the WayBack Machine, it remains a staggering loss for the country’s artists and their audiences.
The network was the biggest local English news channel in the country, and one that could be accessed for free. And so we take a look back on CNN Philippines’ contribution to our local art scene.
Comprehensive Coverage of Independent Artists
CNN Philippines’ delivered comprehensive coverage of Filipino independent artists and writers. Its Lifestyle section showcased many artists outside the mainstream that readers would otherwise overlook. CNN Philippines Life spotlighted local zine creators, lending them a platform to bring their work to a wider audience. These self-published works pushed stories and ideas that wouldn’t necessarily fly in a mainstream publication. Among them was Sauron, a collection of comics from local art collective SAKA, detailing the plight of Negros farmers and the military operations waged against them.
Featuring stories like these became an important way of elevating discourse, and it gave voices to those who might have not even been given a chance to speak. The year-end list in 2023, for example, included an autobiographical analysis of disability in the Philippines and essays about living as a young woman in an online world. Their willingness to feature stories like these shows a fearlessness in their reportage that leaves a void in their absence.
Highlighting Queer Creators in the Country
CNN Philippines contributed to the proliferation of the humanity of queerness through its features on LGBTQ+ creators. During Pride Month, CNN Philippines talked about locally-based artists and how their identities and experiences affected their art. Queer-friendly businesses and media made for queer audiences made it to their own year-end lists as well.
One series asked LGBTQ+ creators about the books that shaped their perspective of being queer and Filipino. It featured an assortment of characters like director Samantha Lee and writer Lakan Umali. The series showcased LGBTQ+ diversity and how our experiences affect how we create our art.
Beyond Pride Month, they highlight interesting stories regarding the matter year-round. Once, they wrote an oral history on our local ballroom culture. They recently featured Penlab’s girl love anthology Silakbo in their year-end list for 2023.
Showcasing Local Art Trends
CNN Philippines shed light on local art trends happening in the country. Whether spotlighting new trends, poetry cultures in the provinces, or talking about the local BookTok, they covered the way our country’s trends changes and mutates to meet the moment it’s in.
The news organization featured an article talking about changes in our visual arts scene. It showed how the pandemic changed the way we present art to the public. It showed that artists in the country have created a community to be able to survive the worst of the pandemic.
Another enjoyable read is a year-end list of the best local komiks—emphasis on the ks—after the boom of popularity of local komiks app Penlab. The app created during the pandemic helped Filipinos access local artists’ works during the lockdown. You can find many of the komiks in the list on Penlab. It shows the trend of the democratization of art continues unabated.
We will always remember CNN Philippines for their ability to bring underrated and unknown artists to the mainstream. Maybe nothing lasts forever, but their contribution to the local scene will always remain and always be remembered.
Related reading: Queer Spaces and the Possibilities of Place