IN case my enemies are beginning to wonder what has happened to me and my blog, allow me to disappoint them. Obviously, I’m still alive, and this blog has yet to be yanked off from cyberspace by unseen forces. 😉
I’m just caught up these days basking in the Roman and Tuscan sun. My friends on Facebook and Instagram probably know what I’m talking about. But I won’t bore you with the details of my current detours (although kindly allow me to inflict on you totally unrelated images of myself and my ongoing travels in this entry), and instead start off from where we left last time.
In my previous posting, I tackled the basic difference between journalism and PR, and how certain people have the mistaken notion that the two are one and the same. They’re not and, despite the growing efforts of certain people in the dark arts to blur the lines, will never be.
This time, allow me to go further by asking you these questions: Are the days of the so-called traditional media numbered in favor of blogs and social networking sites? Can bloggers and citizen “journalists” eventually render trained print and broadcast people obsolete and irrelevant?
This may seem as a non-issue to my colleagues in the print media, who, due to their innate talent, experience and sheer love for the profession have managed to morph and adapt to old (TV and radio) as well as new forms of media such as on-line newspapers and even their very own blogs.
And let’s face it, some journalists, although prized for their doggedness and networking skills, can’t write even if their lives depended on it, while not a few bloggers have proven themselves brilliant, funny and provocative when it comes to dealing with and manipulating the written word.
But to a growing number of youngsters who grew up
exposed to computers—from desktops to laptops, smartphones to tablets—traditional media, especially newspapers, are often viewed with a certain indifference, suspicion, condescension and even outright disdain.
In a variation of their parents’ and even grandparents’ youthful cry not to trust anyone over 30, today’s so-called millennials seem to have a hard time trusting anything being read or watched by media consumers over 30.
I’m aware of the growing disconnect between today’s youth and mainstream media, but I wasn’t aware of its extent until I talked recently with a good friend and former schoolmate in UST.
After working as a journalist for a couple of years for one of Manila’s leading newspapers, L decided to live in Brussels with her Belgian husband F. The couple is blessed with an intelligent and artistically inclined teen daughter with an aptitude for fashion and the written word. I’ll call their daughter S.
I was a bit taken aback, however, when L told me that S thinks that today’s media have become a tad irrelevant and overrated. The kid, if I remember right, also wondered why there’s still a need for giant organizations tasked to regularly dish out the news when bloggers and citizen journalists can freely report and comment on anything and everything they see or experience under the sun.
Such an attitude, if it is indeed an accurate gauge of how a growing number of young people view established media these days, is doubly remarkable (and alarming) since S is not only her mother’s daughter.
How’s that again? Although L, S’s mother, has turned her back (for the meantime, I hope) on journalism in favor of her other passions such as entrepreneurship and the culinary arts, she has never ceased to inspire her daughter to read, write and think critically.
What’s more, S’s father is also an accomplished print and TV journalist himself. In other words, the kid is not wanting in mentors and role models as far as the journalism profession is concerned.
But given that S is still young, I can still hope and heave a sigh of relief that she might one day have a change of heart and appreciate legitimate journalists for their true worth.
Like I said earlier, this piece doesn’t aim to dismiss or in any way denigrate bloggers and citizen journalists, and how not a few of their pieces and news feeds have managed to enliven public discourse and generate exposés of front-page caliber.
Whether we like it or not, technology has leveled the playing field, allowing virtually anyone to be his own publisher, editor and reporter. Well and good.
But the flipside to this development, which L, who has remained sharp and a damn good writer to this day, articulated to S, is worth echoing in this space.
She patiently explained to her daughter that the news stories that come out in traditional news outlets undergo a process—from newsgathering, researching, writing, editing and fact checking.
If the issue is controversial, the reporter is expected to get both sides of the story. In short, stories involving events and personalities that make it as news are not products based purely on whim and baseless gossip.
And even if a news story is based on fact, it must be relevant enough to appeal to the medium’s target readers or audience. Otherwise, it will stay unused in the newsroom in favor of bigger stories with greater impact or importance to the public.
Although the reporter/s are the ones credited with a byline, the story itself is a product that went through several pairs of eyes—from the section editor, copy editor, to the editorial assistant. If the story is a scoop bound to ruffle the feathers of, say, certain government officials or public figures, it’s not surprising and unusual if even the newspaper’s editor in chief goes through the story.
If you will recall, I already touched on this subject in an earlier entry titled “Hey chubby, er, cyber bully, guess what, I’m still very much around.”
In it, I tackled the mistaken notion of certain people that
they can freely malign others, including journalists, by posting baseless shout outs against them on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media, including blogs.
Below are excerpts:
“All that power to criticize and sway public opinion (because of last year’s passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act–AYV) is bound to shift back to what certain bloggers derisively call traditional’ media a.k.a. newspapers and broadcast news. I’m saddened by the turn of events, but, at the same time, I can’t seem to help stifle my smile…
“At the end of the day, the public is in safer hands with legitimate media institutions compared to independent web sites and blogs. Why? Listen and learn. There’s a set of ethics, hierarchy and accountability that governs a media company that’s absent in an independent website, blog and social networking account.”
Even the underserving
My colleague AA Patawaran said as much in a previous interview that also came out in this blog.
“Like every magazine or newspaper page, a blog has so much power and potential. The only thing terrible about it is anybody can do it, even those undeserving,” said Patawaran.
“Well, just because you can doesn’t mean you should—or as, the late Dolphy said, ‘Madaling tumakbo, paano kung manalo?’ (It’s easy to run for public office, but what if I win?)
“The other thing I don’t like about it is it doesn’t require an editor. Everybody needs an editor, especially for something that comes out on a regular basis, daily, weekly, monthly, and even once in a while.
“Blogs are like fast food. They skip many steps and they lack many ingredients or are simply all fluff, sometimes even poison or regurgitated material,” Patawaran concluded.
So, whenever bloggers and denizens of Facebook and Twitter out-scoop members of legitimate media with a tweet or a video clip of someone undergoing a meltdown or engaging in public malfeasance, think about it.
These well-meaning amateurs may be more nimble and quick on the draw when it comes to breaking the news, but are they as responsible, as thorough, as credible and as consistent as the much feared, often misunderstood and hated veteran journalist?