read on (the) line: credibility, the academe, journalism for radikalchick‘s take on marites danguilan vitug‘s UST breaks the rules to favor Corona (rappler.com) and lito zulueta‘s response, UST: CJ Corona earned Ph.D. (inquirer broadsheet).
not surprisingly, the online community, beyond taking sides, vitug vs. corona, is most offended by zulueta’s, or is it UST’s, clear disdain for online journalism and rappler.com.
“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?”
to which the center for media freedom and responsibility (CMFR) responded with Specious and Ingenuous, referring to zulueta’s piece, and taking the side of vitug in no uncertain terms.
The argument that as an example of online journalism Ms. Vitug’s article did not go through the gate-keeping process standard in print journalism is similarly misleading. Gate-keeping is indeed an issue in online journalism, but as editor-at-large of Rappler, Ms. Vitug is herself that site’s lead gatekeeper. Vitug, who has been a journalist for 30 years, is also the founder ofNewsbreak, “which has operated as a magazine and online for more than a decade until it joined Rappler in December 2011.”
CMFR notes that Ms. Vitug’s attempt to get the side of UST and Corona, and her disclosing that she was either rebuffed or ignored, were both in keeping with journalistic ethics and protocol.
hmm. i must confess, it feels strange to be disagreeing with CMFR on this one. but UST’s tack, which everyone presumes is zulueta’s, questioning the credibility of rappler.com if not of vitug, a journalist of long standing, was the perfect riposte. by the standards of mainstream journalism, vitug’s piece failed to put the dissertation issue in the context of the big picture — is it something that happens, too, in other universities? did corona pressure UST into granting him exemptions, or was it purely on UST’s initiative?
that she tried to get the side of UST and corona but was rebuffed shouldn’t have stopped vitug from further investigation. in keeping with journalistic standards of verification and fairness, her researcher could have checked out the matter with CHED, and maybe she would have learned what zulueta gleefully pointed out, that UST is allowed by CHED to grant academic degrees to individuals “whose relevant work experiences, professional achievements and stature, as well as high-level, nonformal and informal training are deemed equivalent to the academic requirements for such degrees.” then perhaps she would have come to a different, less biased, conclusion, as befits a journalistic piece? unless, of course, it was part of a diss-corona campaign in aid of his conviction sa impeachment trial, no more, no less.
interesting tuloy ang tanong ng UST about who’s funding newsbreak.ph and rapper.com. pro-palace ba? pro-RH and -FOI malamang, in accordance with the majority mood. pero pro-what else? anong agenda? at puwede rin namang wala, banat lang nang banat according to the wishes of the crowd, which would not help the discourse any, but it would keep netizens all fired up all the time, good for digital advertisers
which that ceo maria ressa hopes to attract for a “sustainable commercial venture.”
but wait. isn’t advertising the no-no of what ressa calls “uncompromised journalism?” googled it and found this definition (from Politics: An Introduction to Modern Democratic Government pages 151-152) that’s specific to public radio and tv broadcasting but would seem applicable to new media as well, where “funding comes from the state … and broadcasters are…released from the imperatives of pleasing advertisers and appealing to the markets that advertisers want.”
so where is rappler’s funding coming from? who’s spending for the iligan coverage, for example? the state? the palace? philanthropists? NGOs? the rappler team mismo? if any of the first four, then what’s the trade off? if the last, then mabuhay kayo, good job, i wish you all deep pockets!
interesting din yung question about gate-keeping. so vitug gate-keeps herself and that’s okay? but that’s so like blogging, which i do, and which is nothing like rappler’s thing. radikalchick is right: if the site wants to be taken seriously, ressa et al must define terms, draw lines, and maybe rethink their concept. that is, if rappler hopes to earn the respect of mainstream and online media and, in the process, upgrade the quality of and standards for citizen journalism in the pinoy blogosphere and social media.
otherwise, puwede rin namang status quo lang, let rappler be whatever it is they
envision claim it to be, pero stop with the grand promise of inspiring smart conversations and igniting a thirst for change, because the question becomes: what kind of change? small change a la phnoy?
my only prayer is, let it not be as blogger benignO fears: More traditional “branded” journos = more inbred thinking.
BREAKING NEWS from radikalchick
Or what to do after UST shoots you down, invoking academic freedom and autonomy
Vitug et al could have gone to the CHED website, searched for ETEEAP, clicked on the link that explains what this is exactly, scrolled down this ETEEAP page, and found a downloadable document entitled “list of HEIs.” upon opening that document dated December 2010, they would have discovered that while the University of Santo Tomas is indeed granted by CHED the right to give any person a degree based on years of experience etc etc., a Doctorate in Law is not included in that list of degrees.
University of Santo Tomas (UST)
Bachelor of Arts; BS Engineering; BS Nursing; BS Music;
Graduate Programs (MBA; MA Music)
granted the possibility that this list has since been updated, this was still the right “journalistic” reaction to UST’s statement, yes? and it took me all of five minutes to do.