Social media and the future of journalism

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Sunday Essays

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Karlo Alexie Puerto

“SOCIAL media changed the way we look at media and how we access the news.”

These were the words of Ms. Cheche Lazaro, Probe Media Foundation president and investigative journalist during the Mindanao leg of the nationwide Lecture Series in Journalism held at the Finster Auditorium, Ateneo de Davao University sponsored by the Metrobank Foundation.

The media’s primary function is to inform the people about what’s happening around them and in the world in general and the job is primarily done by journalists employed by news companies. With the stride of times, the audiences are not only the spectators of media, but they also have the capacity to even create the news.

Lazaro has specifically pointed out the power social media gives to the people.

“Social media has not only affected our brain, but also the way we communicate,” she said.

After sampling a false situation made up by a social media user, she warned that social media users must be mindful of what they provide to the public.

“Since social media has changed the way we see media, the burden of proof depends on you,” Lazaro added.

Traditional times

During the Spanish occupation, the only source of information was through printed media – from newspapers, pamphlets and magazines. These sources of information was even limited and often filtered to favor the colonizers.

It was during the American Philippines that radio was introduced – which offered a faster way of distributing information. However, most of radio stations that time were dedicated to music and at some point, public service announcements.

With the launch of KZRH (now DZRH), they introduced radio news and soon, nationwide broadcast of their newscasts. After this period, radio become slowly being adopted in the Philippines and born about are nationally syndicated radio stations, regional, local and community radio stations.

After the Japanese occupation and the independence of the Philippines from USA, Filipinos now started to enjoy the benefits of television broadcasting – informing and entertaining with the visuals and the sounds.

As the years passed by, the tri-media has innovated and evolved, introducing new technologies and strategies to bring the most valuable information through the masses. They invested heavily on satellite equipment, cameras, audio recorders, transmitters and even studio setups to go with the growth of Philippine media.

Citizen journalism

Citizen journalism was introduced in the Philippines on 2007 by ABS-CBN through its program “Boto Mo, I-Patrol Mo!”. The program aims to equip the ordinary cellphone or internet user to be the media’s eyes in situations that they cannot be physically present to cover the story. Other news outfits followed and expanded the use of citizen journalism platforms for additional angles and stories to tell.

Citizen journalism in the Philippines is different from those being launched abroad. In other countries, citizen journalism platforms are separate from large news organizations. The Philippine meanwhile has the exact opposite – these platforms are operated under traditional media organizations.

Social media

With the rising number of social media users in the Philippines, traditional news outlets have also joined the bandwagon of being in social media. Television networks, radio stations and even print media outlets have their own Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts that link to their main website.

Citizen journalism also has leveled up, with more citizen journalists pitching in stories or shots through these platforms.

Social media was also remarkable because aside from bringing news, it allows more interaction from their target audiences. Social media also has served as a platform for government to interact with the citizens, and for the rescue and retrieval operations immediately after the onslaught of typhoons.

Social media and newsgathering

Second year Mass Communication student Raphil Vince Saguan thought sourcing out news in social media can be advantageous and at the same time risky.

“Sa ngayon, meron nang different social media accounts ang [karamihan], (Now, many had different social media accounts,) knowing that every person can actually be a source of a newsworthy story,” he said.

However, he also believes that journalists should still be there in the newsgathering process involving social media.

“As journalists, kasali sa trabaho yung pagfilter. Dapat alamin ng isang journalist kung totoo ba o hindi yung nakalap na news (It is the journalist’s job to filter [information]. It is his/her responsibility to check whether the information is correct or not),” Saguan notes.

With the availability of new technology and innovation, budding journalists now have other options for newsgathering, even if it has a precaution of filtering its sources.

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Sunday Essays are articles written by students of Ateneo de Davao University for their Journalism Class.

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