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Bloggers prostitute social media

I got my feet wet in mainstream media in 1950 when I co-edited The Mindanao Cross, a weekly newspaper published by the Oblate missionaries in Mindanao and Sulu. I can say I have covered all beats imaginable as a journalist for seven decades—except for the few years that I tried to practice law and get into advertising.

I can say that I have witnessed Philippine history in the making. I have seen the evolution of our media landscape.

Since the early 1950s when I was business editor and, after a few years, editorial director, and on to today, I have seen print media transform from purely objective reporting to the subjectivity that we know so well today.

In those days, my editor-in-chief always pounded the 5Ws (who, what, when, where and why) onto our heads. Sometimes we added the H—how.

Over the years, reportage became subjective in line with the biases and prejudices of the reporter and the publication he or she worked for. Thus, the reportage of today reads like an opinion piece.

And because of technology, social media—bloggers along with it—emerged.

With social media came fake news. Bloggers do not have the responsibility and accountability of those in mainstream media. They can write whatever they want and even use their platform to bully others.

Meanwhile, we in mainstream media are covered by libel laws. We have rules to follow. If we report fake news, our editors and publishers can fire us anytime.

I write all these because of the emergence of bloggers who claim they have thousands of followers, as if that entitles them to some credit. They are called DDS—Diehard Duterte Supporters.

Clothed with the legitimacy given them by Secretary Martin Andanar of the Presidential Communications Operations Office they now think they must be accorded some respect. My gulay, they even want to exclude legitimate press organizations from covering the President!

And then on Monday, during the Asean summit, a DDS blogger confronted a BBC reporter on why he interviewed another blogger who was critical of President Duterte, but not her. How self-important!

This is why I believe publishers and editors of mainstream media organizations must take a stand against the prostitution of media by these bloggers.

The credibility of our profession is at stake, Santa Banana! Sooner or later, people who have relied in traditional media for so long will not see us the same way!

Why do you think President Duterte won in 2016? Because of mainstream media’s critical stance against President Aquino, that’s what! Even newly appointed Spokesman Harry Roque has admitted this.

As chairman emeritus of the Manila Overseas Press Club, the longest-running media organization in this country, I think those from mainstream media should assert themselves against these bloggers.

* * *

I got some calls about my column yesterday on why I thought President Aquino should be charged with treason for the Mamasapano Massacre, not just reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. But they said I did not really say why.

As I stated, BS Aquino gave aid and comfort to enemies of the state – the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other armed Moro groups.

As such, as defined in the Revised Penal Code, the crime of treason happens when one or a group of persons gives aid and comfort to the enemy. Since Aquino, as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, did not order the armed battalion to assist the beleaguered SAF, Aquino actually committed treason.

The widows and children of the SAF 44 are still demanding justice.

* * *

The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to take a hands-off stance in the anti-drug measures adopted by its members despite human rights concerns is some kind of victory for President Duterte.

While Asean welcomes the assistance of dialogue partners and other external parties in addressing the drug problem through capacity building, intelligence information sharing and other forms of cooperation consistent with relevant international laws, why the hands-off position?

Asean is hiding like an ostrich by not taking a hard-line stance. This is the weakness of the regional organization.

Asean claims drug problems are internal. Is it not abdicating from resolving a common problem?

* * *

Another issue that Asean has shied away from is the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. What then is Asean for if not to stop its members who violate human rights and international laws?

* * *

Two of my favorite singers—Pilita Corrales and Carmen Soriano—have been billed to sing at different venues—at Solaire and Music Museum, respectively.

I have always wanted to hear them again, but the ticket prices are too steep for me.

Topics: The Mindanao Cross

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