Questioning the credibility of online journalism

Inday E. Varona posed a question in Facebook: ONLINE, OFFLINE: WHAT IS JOURNALISM? This question stemmed after Rappler republished Marites Vitug article on UST breaks rules to favor Corona but an Inquirer news article on UST: CJ Corona earned Ph.D gives UST side:

UST said it did not reply to Marites Vitug’s query because it was at a loss on how to respond to “online journalism.” It added that Vitug should have made the proper disclosure that she has had a run-in with Corona and the Supreme Court that may cast some reservation about the objectivity of her article.
“Does anyone claiming to be an online journalist given the same attention as one coming from the mainstream press?” the statement said. “We understand that while Miss Vitug used to be a print journalist, she’s part of an online magazine, Newsbreak, which has reportedly been subsumed into ‘www.rappler.com.’ What’s that?
“Is that a legitimate news organization? What individuals and entities fund Newsbreak and Rappler? Do these outfits have editors? Who challenged Miss Vitug’s article before it went online so as to establish its accuracy, objectivity and fairness? Why was there no prior disclosure made? What gate-keeping measures does online journalism practice?”

Basically , UST asked 7 questions about the online news organization:

1) Does anyone claiming to be an online journalist given the same attention as one coming from the mainstream press?

2) ‘www.rappler.com.’ What’s that? “Is that a legitimate news organization?

3) What individuals and entities fund Newsbreak and Rappler?

4) Do these outfits have editors?
5) Who challenged Miss Vitug’s article before it went online so as to establish its accuracy, objectivity and fairness?

6) Why was there no prior disclosure made?

7) What gate-keeping measures does online journalism practice?

Twitter and Facebook pages are talking about the credibility of online journalism and citizen journalism. Rappler.com states that Online journalism is the future.

Rappler is a social news network, whose journalists have worked for global news organizations and top Filipino news groups. We are proud to be “online journalists.” We promise uncompromised journalism that inspires smart conversations and ignites a thirst for change.

Maria Ressa, the CEO of Rappler.com adds “for the first time in our history, journalists can actually do more than just tell stories. We can act – by giving direction to hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of small actions for change.”

Carlo Figueroa agrees “..that it is a good opportunity to discuss the (long-standing) discussion between “mainstream” journalists and bloggers-as-journalists. But from an Issue Management perspective, UST should not have insinuated on the kind credibility and accuracy of the journalism of Rappler or online news organizations in general. Blaming the messenger should not be the recourse in dealing with a controversy. Rather, the organization in question should address the issue squarely and professionally.”

Joel Pablo Salud take on this is ” Press card or no press card, if your sense of responsibility is in the right place, nailed on the very ground on which your name or byline stands, then you have that right to raise a legitimate issue (complete with ample data to backstop your claims) and seek to publish that in writing–online or print doesn’t matter. On the other hand, you can have as many press cards as ink jets can print out, but without any sense of ethical standards, objectivity and reliability, then you’re an insult to poop everywhere. 🙂 *** Full disclosure: I am the editor-in-chief of a national newsweekly magazine seen in both print and online. I’m also a blogger. (Kosa! Happy new year!) Oh, and was a student of UST. Sad…”

I am a blogger and will never claim to be a journalist. Though I am a features editor of an online media site and that of Blog Watch, the editor-in-chief of the Philippine Online Chronicles checks my articles (in BlogWatch.ph) for any libelous entries. My opinions are based on facts curated from reliable sources and social media sites. It is the community of readers who eventually decide if online media sites (like mine) are credible.

Consistency and being responsible is important for us in Blog Watch. Jane aka @Philippinebeat adds that one can “lose credibiity faster than it takes to gain it..Sleuthing is best done by pro journos. But there are also times when bloggers are alerted by netizens ahead of journos.” Jane also sees the combination of traditional journalists plus citizen watchdogs plus social media as a synergy rather than as competition.

@cocoy further explains in a Blog Watch article , “UST: who is rappler.com?”

We’re bloggers; to some, amateurs and though some of us cannot nor choose to be named, ‘journalist’, but that doesn’t mean blogging the art means not following tenants of journalism. The basics remain. The Who, the Why, the When, the What, and the Hows need to be answered. The pieces— whether veteran journalist or ordinary blogger must still write what is true.

Disclosure is also important. Danilo Arao explains “Ethics 101: Our friends at Inquirer.net should have made a disclosure that the author of this news article is a faculty member of the university being written about. The evidence is in the last entry of this link: http://www.ust.edu.ph/index.php/faculty/237-faculty-of-arts-and-letters.html (At this point, allow me to make my own disclosure: I personally know the author.)”

Here is what has been discussed in social media sites.

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