“The tiny pebble in the shoe, that speck of dust in the eye, a mosquito buzzing around the ear, that nagging itch — seemingly insignificant but cannot be ignored…” .
My friend , Jane Uymatiao, believes the quote describes Blog Watch. In some way, a group of citizen advocates who now use the power of the pen and its collective voice, as well as the individual online voices of its members, to continue pushing for social change.
The beginnings of Blog Watch were simple. In our launch in November 2009, our short-term vision was simply to provide another avenue to promote voter education. Today, Blog Watch continues to be a forum for constructive engagement in the democratic process. We are composed of citizen advocates, independent-minded bloggers, and social media users who leverage new technology tools to advocate for social change and serve as a nonpartisan citizens’ watchdog and collective conscience for transparency and good governance.
Citizen advocates is how we want to be known
At the 1st Future of Media Advocacy track, Jane clarified that “we would like to be known as citizen advocates.” In 2009, traditional media referred to us as “citizen journalists”. I know these are just labels but the burden of “journalist” next to “citizen” brought expectations that we should meet journalistic standards. Jane and I believe Blog Watch is best known as being an advocate of change. It is the very same reason we want to be called “citizen advocates” using citizen media platforms like this one I am writing on.
Inday E. Varona of Change.org affirms that “social media is at its most meaningful if we use it to help those without access”. Amor Maclang adds. “It’s easy to be popular. But it’s different to be able to influence agenda and change. Choose the ‘underadvocated’ issues.” Using blogs as a platform to educate the electorate is the “revolution” we took in 2009 before the May 2010 presidential elections. Blog Watch was fortunate that the Philippine Online Chronicles hosted our platform. Pre-social media blogging lacked distribution and organizational power and we needed a semblance of these to get started. “If we are comfortable with a revolution, change will be easier” , Mae Paner reminded the participants in the forum. Though we are not that many , connecting and collaborating with other netizens made it easier to send the message across. Malou Mangahas affirms the evolution of our role today: “the internet is also platform for fostering accountability and good governance”.
Do I see myself using social networking sites and multimedia platforms to convey underplayed stories through news articles, opinion editorials, photos, videos, podcasts, and social media engagement?
Of course! The beauty of the internet is age is never a hindrance in achieving a dream. Even if my hands will stiffen due to old age, I can still babble my views and create content through speech to text software. If my legs fail me to reach out to citizen advocates in the physical world, there are ways to connect. I can use the power of collaboration to work with others to develop and promote common principles to different models of approaching the goals of an advocacy.
The possibilities to achieve change through media and communication is limitless. The power of citizen media will increase through digital applications (apps), more collaboration with netizens and traditional media as well as the support of full-service agencies, digital marketing organizations, and foundations. The “Internet has opened up spaces for grassroots movements to emerge and seek political and social empowerment through the Web.”
Blog Watch will be a witness, participant and a driving force in the evolution of a culture of powerful citizens’ advocacy as we continue to bridge the digital divide.
The future of the Philippines depends on what we, citizens can do today.
Originally posted at Philippine Online Chronicles