Dominions, minions and epinions

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ROLLY G. REYES

The Manila Times: Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Juan Andres Bautista has hinted at stepping down from office rather than risk going through an impeachment ordeal.

Manila Standard: Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista said Thursday he was not quitting his post, that he was open to any investigation and would let a court decide if he was guilty or not.

— This sudden change of mind could mean more lawyers and PR strategists would be employed.

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Crisenciano “Cris” Ibon, a columnist of tabloid Police Files, is out of danger. Joel Egco, head of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, who spoke to Ibon yesterday, said Ibon believes that the attack could be connected to operators of illegal gambling and bookies in Lipa City and Padre Garcia town.

— This is a revelation that illegal gambling is going on in that area. PNP, I hope that you are reading between the lines.

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“Leni named Liberal Party chairman.” No, it’s not true that LP will be renamed “Lugaw Party” or “Laylayan Party.”

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A few days ago, Malacañang Palace announced that bloggers would be accredited along with mainstream media practitioners. Since then, a fiery discussion has exploded among members of both groups.

A lot of people are saying that blogging and journalism are two very distinct practices. Thus, I have collated different views on this very timely issue to help our readers decide for themselves which side may align with their own thoughts or help them arrive at a conclusion that may enrich their perception of both.

“A news story can grow ‘legs,’ thanks more to repackagers in the blogosphere than to ‘legitimate’ print and broadcast outlets.”

On that claim, I agree. They have access to tons of information that may not be the same as that obtained by legitimate journalists who have limited time to beat the deadline for airing or publication.

“The blogosphere can serve a role in pushing stories to the forefront. Why? Blogs can post anytime (24/7, as well as only when news breaks), blogs usually reflect a single author’s viewpoint, and blogs link obsessively to each other. It’s that snowball-rolling-down-the-mountain effect that the traditional news media can’t ignore.”

The debate essentially boils down to a larger question of identity for bloggers. Is a blogger a journalist? Is there a sharp distinction between the two disciplines, or has time blurred that line to an extent?

Hardnosed media practitioners will, of course, say that blogging is not journalism.

David S. Broder, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post White House Correspondent says, “You can’t just sit on your computer all day. You need to get off your butt, go out there and interview sources, investigate the issue yourself and then write what you’ve learned.”

— Broder’s criticism bears a fair amount of weight in today’s blogging atmosphere, where speculation can be erroneously reported as fact.

Blogging has broadened the marketplace of ideas by allowing more people’s voices to enter the discourse.

Alex Wilhelm goes after the notion that there’s a quantifiable advantage to one approach versus another, saying, “What we don’t need is for journalists to claim that they are the only useful… (writers) to be found. Yes, people do want the hard facts. And yes, they do want to know what they mean. That is where blogging comes in, we provide perspective along with the facts.”

Shane Evans, Deputy Editor of Goal.com:

“In today’s information-based society, where everything is at your fingertips, like the ability to create your own blog and have it show up on Google and in various other outlets, people are basically teaching themselves how to be journalists. Gone are the days when you need a degree to show how credible you are as a writer. If your blog gets a ton of hits and you have thousands of followers on Twitter, you get taken seriously.”

Indeed, there is a growing trend of enthusiast blogs and bloggers moving up to jobs with much larger news outlets due to the quality of their coverage and the strength of their following.

Evans sees the question as being nuanced. “I may be an ‘official’ journalist with a title and make my living this way, but that doesn’t make me a better writer or reporter than some of the bloggers out there today,” he said. “Essentially, the line between the blogger and the journalist is much more blurred than it once was, and frankly, I’m quite pleased about this. It means that if you have an interest in writing or posting your thoughts online and get other people to read them, you can become a success.”

John Berman, the ABC Nightline, Nightly News with Dianne Sawyer and Good Morning America stalwart, stated this opinion succinctly in an interview with TNW. “I think there can be great reporting on blogs,” Berman says, “but that all blogs do not necessarily contain great reporting.”

“My friend and colleague Jake Tapper is a frequent blogger from his position as ABC’s White House correspondent. He often breaks news on his blog prior to putting it on TV, and frequently breaks news that never airs on TV. If you want to know what is going on at the White House, you would be an idiot not to read his blog. But equally, you would be an idiot not to watch his television reports.”

Some are saying that, “if you’re looking for niche information, you’re likely to be better served by visiting a specialist blog rather than relying on the coverage of a writer less well-versed in that particular field.”

“The issue boils down to the quality of the information, rather than its source. While a specialist single-issue blogger would not traditionally be considered a journalist, if they are tracking down unreported leads, following developing stories and reporting on current events with reliable information, they are doing what a journalist does.”

“Good reporting is good reporting no matter if it can be found on a piece of paper or on a computer screen or a TV on a stone tablet. Good reporting includes well-sourced, reliable material presented in a captivating way. Many blogs seek to include this type of content, as do many websites. However, some perfectly good blogs do not. Either they are more observational, editorial, or just flat out pithy. All of that can be great, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it journalism.”

There you are. I will write my own take in my next article.

Good work, good deeds and good faith to all.

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