Mostly 'men in suits': The ASEAN summit and integration as news in Southeast Asia

  • Pauline Gidget Estella University of the Philippines, Diliman
  • Jonalyn Paz Far Eastern University of the Philippines, Manila


This article is a preliminary examination of how Southeast Asian media frame the regional integration of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a news topic. Without grassroots engagement, the ASEAN integration will inevitably fall short of its grand objectives, and crucial to building grassroots engagement is media coverage capable of building audience interest and appreciation. Based on articles published during the major ASEAN summit events in 2018, the authors identified resonant themes in the reportage and discussed these vis-a-vis the documented character of the different media environments in the region. It was found that the axis of the reportage is the declarations and actions of the heads of state, with very few human interest and context-building stories that would have built audience engagement in what is otherwise an affair revolving around ‘men in suits’. Moreover, the journalistic emphasis on consensus and state initiatives reflects continuing adherence to the tenets of the development journalism framework, but this can also be interpreted as the dominance of ‘prominence’ as a news value (i.e. stories are framed according to the gestures of prominent individuals). These findings call attention to the need for re-thinking reportage on potentially high-stake phenomena such as the ASEAN integration.

Author Biographies

Pauline Gidget Estella, University of the Philippines, Diliman

Pauline Gidget Estella is an assistant professor at the University of the Philippines and currently a doctoral researcher at the Department of Media Studies, Technische Universitat Ilmenau (Germany). Her academic work revolves around journalism studies, journalism pedagogy, and media education. 

Jonalyn Paz, Far Eastern University of the Philippines, Manila

Jonalyn Paz is a lecturer at the Far Eastern University of the Philippines. She specialises in development communication and women's studies. 

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How to Cite
Estella, P. G., & Paz, J. (2019). Mostly ’men in suits’: The ASEAN summit and integration as news in Southeast Asia. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 25(1&2), 193-213.