Old vs. new media
It is most unfortunate that the so-called Valley Golf war has been reduced to as the classic example of the excesses of blogging based on an apparently one-sided blog of the person party to the feud. Columnist Alex Magno points an accusing finger that not few journalists have in fact joined the bandwagon hate campaign against the other party in the case to later make apologies as well-meaning journalists unlike bloggers or that lynching mob that never did give a damn hoot after having arrived at some biased conclusions sans the facts. This is not to say however that Magno’s own personal view could be anywhere conclusive of the facts since on purpose, his column, ‘Self-regulation’ failed to discuss about the crucial part where more than sufficient force may have in fact been applied against the persons of the aggrieved parties.
We cannot generalize from a singular instance but from more specimens. One blogger’s blog could not have warranted Magno’s mistaken belief that bloggers are every professional journalist’s nightmare. This (un)thinking betrays his knowledge of blogging and carries his own parochial bias as adherent of the Old Media. In any case, the same stones can be thrown on the journalist’s window who, in more cases than few – have evolved as payroll employees of some corporate patrons or political bigwigs. Editors, publishers, columnists, and reporters are guilty of making biased coverage of news – some of the time – if only to go along the grain of what the limits of libel can allow. In this sense, self-regulation is to the Old Media what seeming deregulation is to the New Media.
Blogging emerges as a new phenomenon in the journalistic landscape – with luminous signs it can in fact replace the rather antiquated form of media. There is now a growing number of journalists invading the blogosphere to morph into bloggers of journalistic consequence as there are now bloggers reverting back to be the journalists they used to be – getting paychecks from the media outfits they belong. In this sense, we can say that the door to either the blogosphere or mainstream media is a revolving one. By Magno’ s rather uncharacteristic hardline underestimation of bloggers, the day shall not come to see one Alex Magno inches his way into the blogosphere – where true dialogue and debate situate themselves in the here and now configuration. The political analysts know too well what ‘balance of power’ means as it applies in this rather worn out debate between bloggers and journalists.
There is a mass of literature delving on the subject that in fact make clear distinctions between the New Media as distinguished from the Old Media, between bloggers and journalists, and that paradigm shift from a single empire to any number of centers of power and influence brought about by weblogs. For instance, Andrew Sullivan’s “Why I Blog” or Mark Glasers’ “Bloggers vs. Journalists is over” – among others, may be instructive in a fuller understanding of the fulfilling dimensions of the blogosphere vis a vis mainstream media.
Apparently, the tsunami story marks the turning point in the paradigm shift to blogging to the career journalists’ imminent peril. It is said that in blogging, there had been a shift in social location if not an amendment to the so-called public service franchise and where the whole traditional conception of “the press” has expanded to the public at large – online than offline. So-called franchise has much been enlarged. No wonder then, that in no time, mainstream media or Big Journalism had been losing great people as they now ran out of room for their ideas. Thus, there is now a ‘culture change’, so to speak, owing to a paradigm shift that no longer makes professional journalism sovereign over the territory it once controlled. The content providers as typical of mainstream and content consumers as akin to the New Media are weighed against where the source comes and the trust it derives in this ‘open-source’ process as a given.
As what Steve Lovelady aptly said, the press “was hopelessly hobbled by some of its outdated conventions and frameworks”. Such changing attitude ought to have been responsible in this loss of editorial sovereignty and its own belief system summed up to have collapsed. Journalists have become a jealous lot in the apparently undiminished freedom that bloggers enjoy. Unlike journalists, bloggers don’t have a code of conduct for journalists but it does not mean, they all violate the bounds of ethical conduct or morality, do they? Unlike journalists, bloggers are not subject of editorial constraints but it does not mean they cannot self-regulate, does it? Unlike journalists, bloggers are content providers than journalists are willing to accept. Now it can happen, journalists would fish in the waters of bloggers first before they can come up with the more balance piece of writing. All told, professional journalism has lost its hegemony as the gatekeeper of news or opinions as its sovereignty in the older landscape has waned with the new technology. The old political contract between the content providers and the content consumers has now changed. The dissemination of news, information and opinions are no longer the exclusive domain of Big Journalism – it will soon be an empty room, gallons of ink will soon be unused, printing press will soon not roar, ink will no longer blot in paper and so on. The day will come that nobody will buy newspapers anymore. It is almost to say that what journalists provide by way of news, information, or commentaries no longer approximate nor represent the truth, the belief, and much less voice of their readerships – no more. Such trained voice can no longer be heard since there are better voices in the wilder blogosphere. This, perhaps, is the present state of the digital eco-system.
The audience of the press has been isolated so long – they cannot even participate without the same journalistic protocol used against them. Even if we gather 10 editors-in-chief from various newspaper brands and give them one type of exams, say edit a long-written prose. It is almost predictable that they will come up with entirely different piece of work. In the blogosphere, there is no such thing as a slaughterhouse for what the audience or bloggers would want to say. The audience becomes the butchers themselves. Each and every time a post or blog is posted, it is feast. And poor bloggers may have to back off or shut off. Anything takes over in terms of news content, information, and first hand accounts. This silly attempt of journalists to make of bloggers of their own image will go to naught. It is like fitting square pegs in round holes. The credentials of bloggers occupy no place of honor in the web and in professional journalism, reverence to who has written is more important than the ideas conveyed in the piece. It is like making of us horses with blinders.
The blogosphere will be here and now – for a long, long time. Blogs come as the better menu.
PRIMER C. PAGUNURAN
UP Diliman, Quezon City Email: firstname.lastname@example.org