Blog Watch formally launched on November 24, 2009 with the help of the Philippine Online Chronicles who hosts our feature articles at blogwatch.ph. https://blogwatch.tv.s175152.gridserver.com is for short updates and our social media news.
It started with a nagging headache at a soiree with a politician. Clueless over the points raised by the more informed political bloggers, I sent out a tweet that the discussion was totally a “nosebleed” experience. I questioned my presence. Participation was challenging because I was not aware of the facts. Charter change? Huh? Years of apathy rendered me an uninformed citizen. There was just one burning question lurking behind my mind “is there hope for this country?” It’s so easy to rant and rave about our leaders from the comfort of home. It’s convenient to plop down on my computer chair, blog away and idealize what the Philippines needed without being aware of relevant issues.
Fear seemed to inhibit me from taking a more proactive role. Making a stand opens a door to criticism. Was I ready for that? Sharing these insecurities in my personal blog brought positive feedback. My readers inspired me to open the door to politics and become a more aware and vigilant citizen, They were interested in what I had to share, my interaction with politicians who seemed eager to embrace new media. They wanted to know my opinions, the opinion of an ordinary citizen.
Blog Watch is the result of that inspiration to become an empowered citizen, and my friends’ eagerness to participate in the democratic process. The name was coined by Jane Uymatiao and myself . I suggested “Blog… something” and Jane added “Watch” and so it became Blog Watch. The vision of the Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism and thePhilippine Online Chronicles on the role of citizen journalism in providing fresh angles and topics that mainstream media may have chosen to neglect, paved the way for bloggers like myself to participate.
This was our teaser video:
Did Blog Watch achieve its goal?
Statistics are not available to measure the rate of influence of Blog Watch articles, podcasts, videos, livestreams and social media engagement in the online community. Our goals were simply to reach out to our community. When Blog Watch launched on November 24, 2009, it was “our vision to provide another avenue to promote voter education. We began as a motley group of 16 bloggers and grew to about 25 by the time of the May 10 elections. When elections were over, “Blog Watch managed to interview seven presidential candidates and other candidates running for national positions, train with the PCIJ, attend several electoral fora and presidential debates, guest in several talk shows covering the elections, and host a three-hour TV slot on Global News Network (GNN) last May 10 for its own election coverage.” Bloggers got invited to coverthe Inaugural, the State of the Nation Address, and theTown Hall Meeting with President Aquino during his first 100 days.
I believed Blog Watch achieved its goal in playing a role in the online coverage of the 2010 election and sharing information that our readers might not have gotten from mainstream media. It is difficult to ascertain if I shaped the opinions of readers outside my community. There is theKlout Score which is supposed to measure one’s overall online influence but the numbers are not indicated. The mere fact that I helped influence my little community is an achievement already. What is achieved beyond that is icing on the cake.
Perhaps one indicator that Blog Watch created some impact in the last election was the number of interview requests on citizen journalism. Mainstream media started to follow me in Twitter. Journalism students told me that the interview request was upon the suggestion of their professors. One example is Keisha Halili. a journalism student from the University of the Philippines whose thesis topic was solely on Blog Watch. Her thesis topic was “Blogging the Ballot: A textual analysis of Blogwatch.ph and how it covered the campaign period of the 2010 Philippine National Elections.”
An empowered citizen
Before Blog Watch started, I never quite knew what citizen journalism was, as most traditional journalists want to call us. I think of myself as a citizen first, who happens to be a blogger and empowered with the right technologies. I prefer to be called an empowered citizen or a citizen advocate.
Even before any media accreditation from the Malacanang Palace was given to bloggers, White House accredited Cocoy Dayao, one of the first bloggers elected to be a participant of the Foreign Press Center “2012 Election Night Program” from October 31-November 8, 2012. There is still little or no citizen engagement from the national government but there has been progress in the local scene.
I am not an expert in social media theories but there is much to learn from stories that traditional media picked up from our twitter timeline and that first broke in Twitter:
- Pilipinas Kay Ganda
- @congMP deletes his twitter account
- Plunder of our Philippine Marine Life
- Child abuse against Willie Revillame
- Manny Pacquiao alleged Boracay resort
- PCSO – He said, She said
- #epalwatch: Citizens’ response to Epal Public Servants
I have to give credit to GMA News for always being the first media organization to feature our tweets or blog posts . Only then will the rest pick it up. Our most recent project is the #epalwatch hashtag in collaboration with facebook.com/nomoreepal. Jane in her article says that “we in Blog Watch believe that you are a citizen empowered by technology and social media. All you need is a quick eye and your own mobile phone or digicam. Keep an eye out for any sign of epal-ness and bring it to the netizens’ attention.”
Using our mobile phones and digicams that work for the good of the nation is one way of empowering citizens. As election 2013 approaches, we invite once again Pinoy netizens to join #juanvote the hashtag we used for the first social media coverage by citizens in the 2010 elections. To support this hashatag is a #juanvote mobile android app at Google Play store via Kwan Initiatives’ InstaPatrol.
There is only one power that can face and surmount the misuse and abuse of the powers of the government and that is the power of an aware, vigilant, organized citizenry. I thought Blog Watch would end on election day. As I became more educated on the democratic process, I discovered that the duty of a citizen does not end on election day. The loss of my presidential candidate left me with initial feelings of disappointment. I comforted myself with the thought that no matter who the president and the other leaders would be, I will continue to be vigilant as our country moves through a difficult transition to democratic restoration and economic recovery.
Today, Blog Watch is a citizens’ watchdog for transparency and good governance. It intends to enable the Aquino administration to fulfill its promise to include the citizenry in solving the nation’s problems. Blog Watch is a forum for constructive engagement in the democratic process.
- We monitor the Aquino administration delivery of its promises and commitments.
- We encourage the citizenry to choose new media technologies they are comfortable with be it blogging, Twitter, or Facebook and use it responsibly
- We encourage the government to use new media technologies that will make them inclusive, transparent, accountable and responsible.
- We remain critical with basis.
- We filter the news. We filter the noise.
- We continue to keep watch on previous administrations.
- We tirelessly push the “good” news
The past three years has been an enriching experience. The headaches are no longer there when I peruse the latest news on the political scene. It does not take me long to understand an issue now. The criticism is not as bad as I imagined them to be. I strive to be fair and balanced. I am blessed with blogger friends and other social media user friends who take advantage of new technologies to form public opinion, engage their friends and hold the government accountable. Citizens are getting to be more vigilant and participative.
Oh yes, I believe there is hope in our country.
Be part of citizen power. Register here in Blog Watch. or send me an email noemidado at gmail dot com if interested to be part of our team of social media users, or writer for Voter education page in blogwatch.ph
Photos by Azrael, Creative Voices, Noemi Lardizabal-Dado. Some Rights Reserved.