Philippine Blogging and Mainstream Media

Philippine blogging and mainstream media have worked together and clashed over the past few years. This is a global phenomenon, but the local case is different from much-analyzed US situation. For one, the local online community is much smaller. Broadcast media reaches out to entire sectors of society that are not connected or even very aware of the Internet. Second, the local media outlets are still struggling to make their relevance felt among the Internet-savvy. But do they need to, when most people still have no network connections?

Case number one is the Philippine Daily Inquirer “Yemas” photo plagiarism. The principals: blogs The Passionate Pilgrim’s Musings and Ramblings and Market Manila. The Philippine Daily Inquirer print edition, page C4 of the November 17, 2005 issue, reprinted at (with the photo removed by the INQ7 editor). A certain James Anthony R. Ceniza, suspected photoplagiarist, web address unknown.

The story unfolding: analysis by stepping on poop, and Sassy Lawyer and Yugatech who have covered similar issues in the past.

While online plagiarism is an important subject, my concern here is how the Inquirer works out this photo. Could they compensate for this? Could they have prevented it by verifying submissions?

For now, the only punishment is that if James Ceniza has a future employer, associate, or lover looking for his name online, the web evidence will speak for him.

The second case today is the old (in Internet time) story of the TRO on the PCIJ blog. While many opinions have been exchanged on the blogosphere, like in a previous story here, some are off it – like on mailing lists. Here’s an a opinion by Internet veteran Jim Ayson posted on the ph-cyberview group. It’s an excerpt of a long post on the topic.

Did PCIJ overstep its traditional role as responsible investigative journalists when posting that information online? Now this is where the journalists and bloggers can have a go. I would put it as such – Does PCIJ prefer to be Time/Newsweek/Washington Post … Matt Drudge’s Drudge Report and the Smoking Gun?

I already have a problem with the PCIJ blog being a composite of fact and fiction – on the one hand you have the well researched and vetted article on top, then after that you have this long stream of comments from the peanut gallery from everyone and his brother in law providing his opinion, some of which are coming from completely out of left field. Yes that’s the way it is with all blogs and WordPress in particular but when a traditionally credible news organization presents itself the same way, it becomes a problem. If someone were to post some far out comment on the case, like saying the guy was seen cross-dressing in Makati ave at 3am – that would go on and be spidered
and cached by Google all the same. Surfers perusing the article would read both the fact and the fantasy on the same page.

The blog format with the freewheeling commentary serves its purpose for commentary or personal publishing – when a news organization maintains one it needs to edit the commentary more responsibly. After the PCIJ crosses that line you tend to wonder if it was still interested in doing investigative journalism or if it prefers being a
catalyst for provocative commentary,if not dishing out editorial commentary all by itself.

There is also the issue of permanance of information on the Net – once having been indexed by a search engine, it becomes a permanent record, living forever in Google’s cache and other archive engines. So Mrs Tiongco and her children will have to deal with the consequences of the PCIJ’s blog post for a few more decades. This fact has aleady been bandied about by the PCIJ in response to the TRO.

To read the full post, sign up at the group home page.

In this case, is the PCIJ considered a mainstream medium, or a blog? Even in print, it’s probably outside the “mainstream” but I don’t know if that gives

Watch out for future cases of mainstream media crossing Philippine blogging.

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