BLOGGERS don’t care about the truth? Stop blaming bloggers. Unfortunately, it’s the bloggers who spread lies that create the buzz. This has led to overgeneralizations about bloggers, especially compared to journalists. But who transmitted the lies? The government should review Section 12 of Republic Act (RA) 6713, also known as the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Servants and Employees”, particularly in statements. I must remind government officials that they must abide by Section 12 of RA 6713. Government or senior officials who peddle false news, hate speech or historical distortions pass it on to die-hard supporters or bloggers who then create content and pass it on. off as news.
Coverage of Malacañang Palace by bloggers is not new. Prior to the June 30 presidential inauguration of then-President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino 3, mainstream media covered every past inauguration in the Philippines. What now seemed like a first for blogging, if not globally, at least within the Philippine blogosphere, is that our BlogWatch group (http://blogwatch.tv) was accredited to cover this event. . This accreditation marked the first time that a group of bloggers had been authorized to cover a presidential inauguration from start to finish. Even though blogger accreditation under Aquino didn’t materialize, it didn’t matter. First, BlogWatch is not about news coverage. Second, I didn’t find it necessary to cover everything about the president. It was more important for the government to listen to citizens and open avenues for engagement and feedback.
On June 12, 2016, I received a message from the new secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), Martin Andanar, stating that he was “considering opening the Malacañang press office to credible bloggers” and if I could bring a few bloggers to exploratory interviews. PCOO even drafted a Ministerial Order (DO) for provisional accreditation of social media bloggers in July 2017. We caught up with Atty. Trixie Cruz-Angeles with other bloggers and PCOO managers where we discussed the project and changes such as the title should be Social Media Practitioner. The purpose of the DO was “to provide an interim accreditation system for the participation of social media bloggers to cover special events attended by the President, to generate news and information for citizens via social media platforms” .
In my experience covering some events in Malacañang and government agencies under the Aquino and Duterte administrations, our bloggers have never been ashamed to sow misinformation or misbehave at an event. After all, we adhere to the journalistic standards and best practices shared by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) when it invited bloggers to a training seminar on “Covering Elections in the Age of the Internet and Automation” in 2009. PCIJ realized that news media professionals have influence in our community. My problem is condescending journalists who question our presence and our credibility. One example is the fuss over the accreditation of 14 bloggers covering the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Bloggers have a sphere of influence, like a network of ASEAN friends, where we have engaged and exchanged information in the past.
As Sonnie Santos wrote on BlogWatch, “As with any profession, not all journalists are credible and true to their craft. Likewise, not all bloggers suck.” According to Santos, the problem here is “that sweeping generalizations against bloggers are made irresponsibly by people who are expected to have rigorous academic training and adhere to a strict code of ethics and checks and balances.”
Social media continues to be one of those disruptive phenomena that has changed the way things are done in media. Mainstream media and social media professionals could complement each other. If a code of ethics and standards are in place for accreditation, and opposition bloggers are included, that’s good for democracy. With the government’s endorsement of RA 6713, accreditation would allow us to move forward in seeking recognition for bloggers as a credible source of underrated stories and play a dog-dog role. custody of citizens. What matters most is citizen engagement, defined by the World Bank as “a two-way interaction between citizens and governments that gives citizens a voice in decision-making, with the aim of improve development results”.