Blogging the news

After the cancellation of the 12th ASEAN Summit, the Japanese Prime Minister who carried on with his Manila trip said he understood the decision of the Philippine government. But after a few days, a Japanese foreign minister wrote in his blog that the Philippines lost credibility with the unilateral postponement of the Summit. Are we going to believe the official statement of the Japanese Prime Minister or the blog entry of a high-ranking government official?

This recent case reminds us how blogs are quickly becoming alternative sources of media information. While it is still doubted whether bloggers can be recognized as journalists, the potency of blogging in transmitting information to a broader audience can never be ignored.

Blogging empowers citizens, especially those whose views are sometimes overlooked by the mainstream media. Since the dominant media can only report stories matching traditional criteria, blogging allows people to easily write about their lives or topics which are relevant to their communities.

The most interesting accounts on the destruction wrought by typhoon Milenyo two months ago were written by bloggers. They also live-blogged the boxing match between Erik Morales and our very own Manny Pacquiao. At the height of the ‘Hello Garci’ controversy last year, Malacanang admitted it was ‘not winning the war in the cyberspace’, proof that bloggers have been successful in articulating the peoples’ frustration against the government.

Philippine media has not been ignoring the potential of blogging. Manila Standard hired two bloggers to become regular columnists in the paper. A number of journalists maintain their own blogs. News reporters are now quoting statements and developing news stories from blog articles. News organizations have set up blog sites which led to more interaction with the readers.

But Philippine media has also not been aggressively endorsing the use of blogs to improve media content. A TV station bans its reporters from having personal blogs. Some media practitioners look down on bloggers and refuse to recognize the journalistic output of the latter. News teams have yet to refer to blogs on a daily basis. Gathering of news still requires the sending of press releases through fax or e-mail or the texting of reporters/photographers.

One way to improve integration of blogs with news writing is to make blog content more reliable and sensible. The most popular blogs in the country and elsewhere are those dealing with entertainment and gossip. Most bloggers ignore politics or social issues and tend to concentrate on mundane matters. Of course, every blogger has a right to write anything which interests him/her, whether it’s about the mystery surrounding the president’s health or Borgy Manotoc’s confessions on radio. The challenge is to encourage more bloggers to manifest their views, from time to time, on issues affecting the community. Perhaps we can also advise politicians to blog as well since this can improve public accountability. (This is assuming they know how to write).

On the other hand, the growth of blogging community may be wishful thinking for a country with small number of literate persons with access to phones and computers. Another obstacle is how to convince people grappling with hunger and poverty that blogging can actually make a difference in their lives.

Online journalism is a promising phenomenon faced with real difficulties. In the long run, blogs can improve media content and delivery of news. Blogs do not demean the journalism profession nor do they aim to take over news groups.

Blogging can be a productive activitiy for Filipinos. We must take advantage our familiarity with the English language and the fact that local bloggers are not (yet) harassed by government censors like what is happening in other nations.

Blogging is simple. Write, post, upload. Blogging is powerful. Write, interact, transform.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted December 18, 2006 at 11:04 am | Permalink | Reply

    Quite so. These things do take some time, give it a few more years, blogging would soon cease to be ignored or taken for granted.

  2. anonymous
    Posted February 1, 2007 at 9:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    kilangan namin ang kop[ya ng accreditation ng KP.asap

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