Blogging without a license too

It is standard for a speaker at a conference or a panelist in a forum to say he has learned new things, or learned to look at his subject in a new light, because of the questions from the audience. But in the case of the PCIJ forum on "bloggers as journalists" last Saturday, I really did learn much more from the discussion than the audience probably did from my intervention. 

I had a short wishlist, which I used to end my remarks: I wished that journalist-bloggers minimized or avoided altogether their use of rumor or gossip (or "scuttlebutt," the word that Manolo Quezon has helped to popularize). That more journalist-bloggers monitor and write about radio news and commentary, which one broadcast executive once described as the "black hole" of Philippine journalism. That more journalist-bloggers learn to add quotes from other sites being linked to, especially when these sites are being criticized, rather than merely providing the links — the better to help the reader evaluate the journalist-blogger’s criticism. And that more journalist-bloggers enjoy "institutional backing" (the phrase Ricky Carandang used in the same early-afternoon discussion).

On the other hand, I learned the following: That top-notch Ellen Tordesillas is about to start her own blog. (Granted. That wasn’t a question from the audience, but an input from a fellow panelist.)  That journalists must learn to think of blogs "not just [as] an extension of opinion" (Caloy Conde). That we must consider the essentially subjective nature of blogs, that "blogs are biased" (Rachel Khan). That the issue of journalists using blogs to "get around" the strictures of conventional media is one that exercises many journalists (for instance, Joyce of Manila Standard Today, Ricky again, and Joseph Morong). That the distinction between journalists and journalists-as-bloggers may actually miss the point about blogging as a phenomenon (this is what I understood Alan Robles to be saying, but I myself may have missed a point or two). That blogging may breathe new life into community journalism (Rolly Fernandez). That Jove Francisco’s indispensable chronicle of life in the Malacanang press trenches enjoys enviable support from his newsroom. And, not least, that SunStar’s exciting experiment in blog-powered citizen journalism depends on Max Limpag’s sleeping cycle!

PS. Rachel has thoughtfully provided a link to "the best ethical guide for bloggers."

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10 Comments

Filed under Readings in Media

10 responses to “Blogging without a license too

  1. Hi there John! I must say your comment on the Black Hole of AM radio was one thing that came out of the recent Bloggers conference that I wish I had said myself already.

    Throughout the Gloriagate crisis, and throughout the Archipelago, the Palace was savvy enough to coopt a critical mass of that particular and most ubiquitous of media to deliver the Palace line on every single controversy that arose.

    It is the medium used to win elections (at least when you aren’t doing voterigging!). The same machinery used last year was probably pressed back into action to make sure every talking mouth on AM radio was really the Palace ventriloquists’ dummy. In the provinces there was nearly 100% capture in my estimation, since each locale is usually monopolized by just one or two stations. In Manila’s diversity, there were some exceptions, though I would guess 80-90% were “influenced” by the Palace in the usual ways.

    The one scintillating exception among the major Manila broadcasters was Mike Enriquez of DZBB. His early morning shows right after the Garci tapes came out, were the constant cause of uncontrallable laughter for his huge audience, as he would imitate the conversations with his normally stentorian voice and unique speaking metre.

    Since the trimedia maintain a kind “co-equal branches of Media” principle, and are careful not to criticize each other too much, there is really no “check and balance” to counter the power of each from the outside.

    BLOGS vs DEMAGOGUES might be problematic though, since blogging is basically an elite activity in the Philippines–the elite being the owners of computers connected to the world wide web. Whereas, every jeepney and carinderia is linked to the demagogasphere.

  2. Joe Torres

    Fortunate are we who have access to the internet and can express what we want in our blogs.

    Pity the ordinary people who have no other recourse but shout in the streets to say what they want.

    Where have all the barbeshops gone where every Juan, Pedro and Jose can have their latest political analysis from their friendly barbero.

    I wish that journalist-bloggers will continue to have the humility and not think that because we have access to the medium we also have the monopoly of ideas and impose standards on others on how to blog.

  3. Hi Dean. I’ve learned to rely on a number of radio anchors or reporters myself. On my non-exclusive list would be reporters like Anthony Taberna, Rowena Salvacion, Benjie Liwanag and anchors like Karen Davila and Joel Reyes Zobel. I’m sure there are others. But every day I listen to the radio I feel the need to at least capture some of the news and commentary coming out of it, and to critique them (perhaps to point out what was done right, or to opine on what went wrong).

    I certainly do not mean to imply that “bloggers” are better than radio journalists; I only mean to say that blogging gives all of us an opportunity to slow down the stream of information coming out of radio, to sort through the flotsam.

    Hi Joe. I like the idea of barbershops helping in the shaping of public opinion; I don’t think the friendly barbers have moved out of the neighborhood, though. I think they’re still very much around. I’m sure if Habermas knew more about the Philippine situation, he’d have included the barbershops in his notion of the “public sphere.” (Well, maybe he did!).

    But as you know all too well, Internet penetration is already something like 7.8 percent. That pales in comparison with, say, Korea, the most wired nation on earth. But there are more of us, so 7.8 percent actually comes up to some six million Filipinos. (And that doesn’t include Filipinos living abroad.) JV Rufino also mentioned something from an Inq7.net report, which forecasts a penetration rate of 20 percent by next year (probably by the end of the year, that’s what I understand it to mean). Then we’d be talking about some 16 million Filipinos, much more, I wager, than the combined audience for newspapers today.

    About your last point: I do not mean to suggest that, say, my views on journalist-bloggers are “imposing standards on others.” It is only my view on that very small subset of bloggers: journalists who extend their journalism into the so-called blogosphere. It is also I hope a reasonable one. A journalist passing off someone else’s material as his own through his blog, for example, or making up quotes from sources he never talked to, would be damaging his reputation not only as a blogger, but as a journalist too.

  4. DJB,

    Nice term you used, demagogasphere. But I would prefer the term demagagosphere!

  5. Demagagosphere! Yes, Dawin, what’s the use of Greek if we can’t localize it every now and then?

  6. Sir,
    The link to the Citizen Journalists site is http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/cj – that’s the site dependent on my sleeping cycle 🙂 since I’m still the one running it. We hope to recruit one or two citizen journalists to help me run it. The Citizen Watch website and Blog Chronicles are run by the Sun.Star network online, of which Cebu is a member. They have a staff running it.
    It was great to meet you during the forum.

    Max

  7. Thanks, Max. I stand corrected. I’ll change the link as soon as I can. It was good that PCIJ invited you as a resource person, not only because of what you’re doing, but also to help break the Manila-centric mindset those of us who live in Manila often fall prey to.

  8. dawin, payag na payag ako sa improvement mo:
    DEMAGAGOSPHERE.
    But as John Nery just said, there are many worthies competing in the radio ecosystem, and we ought not insult their worthy efforts.

    By the way here is a small technical note. AM radio is not very easy for people to listen to at all when they are sitting inside a house or office. This is due to the physics of AM radio reception. That is why you usually listen to AM in the jeep or tricycle, but really at a carinderia or barbershop or an office building, it is the FM band that is used.

    I don’t listen to FM much at all, since i get music from the Web or DVDS/CDs, but I’ve always wondered why there isn’t more serious TALK on FM, which reaches into homes and offices.

  9. Nice meeting you at the conference. Too bad haven’t got time to talk a bit.

    Anyway, was going to ask this in the conference but did you discuss something about a Blog Company Policy? Or has any of the networks made something similar to this?

  10. John,
    Paki-delete naman ng adjective mo sa akin. Nakakahiya.

    I already have a blog:www.ellentordesillas.com.

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