“big bad blogger”

25 January 2011

Jagged Jaded Journalist and the Big Bad Blogger
Danilo Araña Arao

On a slow news day (Sunday), a journalist opts to write about an irresponsible blogger who allegedly conspired with a public relations firm to extort money from a restaurant owner.

It would have been a good story, except for three things: (1) No names were given; (2) minimal details were given on the circumstances behind the restaurant owner’s allegations; and, to make matters worse, (3) the author used only one source (i.e., the restaurant owner named Georgia) in writing her article.

In an article “Please Don’t Give Blogging a Bad Name” published in the Sunday Inquirer Magazine last January 23, journalist Margaux Salcedo interviewed an anonymous female restaurant owner who fell victim to a so-called Big Bad Blogger (BBB) and an unnamed public relations (PR) firm that offered to make BBB stop writing negative reviews about her restaurant “for a price.” The full text is available online at http://showbizandstyle.inquirer.net/sim/sim/view/20110122-315972/Please-Dont-Give-Blogging-a-Bad-Name.

Under ordinary circumstances, I wouldn’t waste your precious time by calling your attention to an article which is better off ignoring. But the reactions of many bloggers on Salcedo’s article prompt me to give my two cents on the issue as there are angles that need to be discussed in the context of standards of responsible writing.

Bloggers have every reason to demand that Salcedo name names and not hide characters behind catchy aliases like BBB. If divulging the identity of the blogger and PR firm is impossible, then it is the responsibility of the journalist to explain why this is so.

At this point, I only need to briefly analyze the form and content to make better sense of the article’s shortcomings. In terms of content, the article provides very limited information and context. As regards the article’s form, Salcedo’s diction needs to be analyzed: For example, the use of the phrase “big bad blogger” gives the impression that the blogger in question is indeed being paid by a PR firm that, in turn, allegedly tries to coerce the restaurant owner to give money.

Salcedo is actually not sure of the connection between BBB and the PR firm. What more can we make of this paragraph written by Salcedo which is full of speculation? “Maybe Georgia is overreacting to a negative review. Maybe The Firm was only claiming to have relations with Big Bad Blogger for their own sinister purposes, unbeknownst to Big Bad Blogger. Or maybe the suspicions are true and Big Bad Blogger bows to the highest bidder. Whatever the case, one thing’s for sure: Georgia is now afraid of the blogging community. And this fear resonates among other restaurateurs who have had the same experience.”

In reading Salcedo’s article, “one thing’s for sure” (to borrow her words): Her uncertainty is due to lack of in-depth research as she failed to get the side of BBB and the concerned PR firm. Even if the journalistic output is packaged as a column article (Menu) in the Sunday magazine, it must be stressed that columnists need to share opinions based on research, particularly multiple sourcing.

A single-sourced article like Salcedo’s, not surprisingly, presents only one side of the story, important details of which are even wanting. There was no effort, for example to get the circumstances behind the restaurant owner’s reaction to the alleged negative review written by BBB.

Unlike some bloggers who argue that the article puts blogging (especially food blogging) in a bad light, I would rather reserve my judgment until more details are provided. While I share their assertion there are indeed irresponsible bloggers in our midst, I don’t think a badly-researched journalistic article like Salcedo’s serves as evidence of this.

The article mainly serves to titillate rather than inform, which can be perceived as “jagged” in the sense that it is of rough quality (or, simply put, a rough draft that should have been improved by meticulous researching and rewriting). One cannot be blamed if Salcedo is also described as “jaded” because of perceived exhaustion to unearth significant data.

Indeed, it is the jagged, jaded journalist who created the big bad blogger on a supposedly slow news day. The basic challenge for bloggers and other concerned readers is to objectively criticize it and not engage in subjective, knee-jerk accusations that do nothing in raising discourse to a higher level.

Posted in blogs, danny arao, media

10 Responses to “big bad blogger”

  1. January 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Oo nga, mejo foul din yung article.

    I think it’s very possible din na may mga extortion talaga na nagaganap sa likod ng blog scene. Sana naman tigilan na ang mga ganitong gawain ng mga ibang manunulat. It’s so cheap.

  2. January 25, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    hey rah ;) so cheap but not really surprising, di ba. pero kainis si salcedo kasi it’s such a bitin kind exposey.

  3. January 26, 2011 at 12:27 am

    from arao: ” Even if the journalistic output is packaged as a column article (Menu) in the Sunday magazine, it must be stressed that columnists need to share opinions based on research, particularly multiple sourcing.”

    really? this is the first time i’ve heard this about an opinion column in a lifestyle section

  4. January 26, 2011 at 11:07 am

    paging margaux salcedo: name names or else drop the whole thing para fair

  5. January 26, 2011 at 11:09 am

    eh di ba ang MSM they receive freebies and payments din through ex-deals? isn’t this the standard practice in all media establishments? whats the official ethical rule on this?

  6. January 26, 2011 at 11:21 am

    dapat kasi klaro lahat at may boundaries. hanggang saan ang acceptable at hndi. otherwise media old and new would be dead

  7. January 26, 2011 at 11:23 am

    ang rule na alam ko sa mga exdeals contract is kahit sponsored pa yan, the writer and publisher have the prerogative on the content, which is only fair

  8. January 26, 2011 at 11:24 am

    because media must be loyal to the reader first before business

  9. January 26, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Name the blogger and the pr firm so they can defend themselves, that is if they can

  10. January 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Hi Angela. I suspect blackmail and greenmail exist also in the blogosphere, but of course it works sub rosa, so it’s hard to pin down. Perhaps Salcedo has to protect herself from libel suits.

    In a world of freedom of speech, the rule is also caveat lector. And GIGO.

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