I don’t think of myself as a “fence-sitter” on many things, but I’m in the interesting position of being a blogger in one part of my life, and a journalist in my past life, a blogger today, and (hopefully) a journalist again in the future. While I don’t know everything there is to know about journalism or blogging, I think that my own experiences – and whatever I have learned here in the seminar-workshop held by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism – can properly frame what I think of blogging and journalism.
The differences exist between both channels of communication, but rather than make the two forms different, I’m inclined to use the operative word “as.” Or “is.” Or because I can’t make up my mind yet, perhaps a slash mark in between.
For the longest time, many of us have fallen into the trap of thinking that blogging and journalism are two different things that threaten each other’s existence, or compromise each field’s reason for existing. It has always been a relationship of watching the watchdog, breathing down each other’s necks, and the relationship has always been by-and-large an antagonistic one. Traditional media has every reason to dislike bloggers for changing the media landscape from a firm foothold to a precarious position. Bloggers have every reason to dislike traditional media because of their lapses and a culture of individuality in the blogosphere.
The way I see it, blogging and journalism need not take the character of a binary opposition. Whatever conflict – real or invented – is only the result of a failure of either side to adapt to the changing dynamics of mass media. The demand lifts off from the very pages of Darwinian thinking: adapt, or perish.
Not all bloggers are journalists, and not all journalists are bloggers. As part and parcel of the fourth estate, success is a result of how we all respond to the demands of the challenges we face in the future: 2010, political scandals, economic problems, and so on and so forth. It’s all a matter of being a blogger-journalist or a journalist and blogger blogger-journalist (it’s either BJ or J&B). Bloggers should not take an acerbic view of traditional media, and traditional media should not take an antagonistic stand against new technology. The trick, I think, is to fulfill expectations without overstepping bounds.
I’ve always believed that the formula for success in blogging is a journalistic attitude. It’s not about being verbose or sounding like an “expert,” but simply these standards:
- Stating the facts. Opinions always come secondary to facts. The responsibility of the blogger is to be a watchdog to the facts of the journalist, and the journalist’s responsibility is to construct the right news and coverage for the blogger to be able to make a coherent opinion. Facts – not opinions – are the backbone of what we all do.
- Humility. I am all against this idea that bloggers will replace journalists, and that bloggers should aim for a role bigger than what they do. A standard of humility assumes that everything is put into context: the kind of rockstar/diva attitude that comes with success in blogging is something we should be wary of, and something that we should shed from ourselves. Blogging has a limited reach, and you’re only a legend in your own mind.
- Ethics. The most elementary standards of good journalism should never be dispensed with when it comes to blogging. Just because the two channels are different doesn’t mean that you cannot apply journalistic ethics to blogging. This is why I don’t believe in a “code of ethics” for bloggers: we only need to follow the rules of good writing, and never let go of our manners.
This is just a “menu” of sorts: powder or lotion in the wonderful world of ego massage. Not all journalists can be bloggers, and not all bloggers can be journalists. It’s all about adapting to the right contexts, and adopting an attitude that both blogging and journalism find common ground. Whether or not this is applicable for all bloggers is a matter of choice. Like menus, you merely select what order you want, or not select things at all. This is just from the perspective of someone who, in one rare occasion in the foothills of Zambales, became a fence-sitter.
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Anyway, while I’ve never worn my hair in pigtails, I’d like to thank Weng Paraan and Ed Lingao of the PCIJ for writing his crazy-ass loco piece on my paper freakin’ cranes. Because Subic is laid out in a sprawling design that rivals the complete barrenness of Fort Bonifacio (heck yeah, Dick Gordon, and the way you put everything one kilometer away from each other, FTW), I wasn’t able to get enough paper to make more birds.