wazzup, sassy?

quick break muna from the political drama unfolding. can’t let pass without comment megablogger connie veneracion’s sweeping swipe at pinoy political bloggers, even if she can’t possibly be referring to li’l ol’ me.

check out her march 4 column sa manila standard today, Citizen journalism and the new media (which, curiously, is not posted in any of her blogs) and wonder, what’s up?

by civilian journalism she means “participatory journalism,” defined in We Media: How Audiences Are Shaping the Future of News and Information, as citizen journalists “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information” and the intention is to “provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires.”

first she complains that the term is

“too often associated only with a particular niche – news and politics”

instead of including

“anything and everything reported by citizens from first-hand experiences, including food bloggers especially when they talk about the rise in prices of meat or fish or the unavailability of good-quality prawns and mangos because we only what is left after the best ones have been exported”.

she follows up with:

“You won’t find celebrity, food and fashion bloggers giving a hoot about having their sites labeled as forms of citizen journalism; only political bloggers care and they care a lot. Why?

“Simple, really, and the phenomemon can be explained in two words: advocacy and activism. They have agenda and the term ‘citizen journalism’ sort of elevates the status of an online publisher. It’s glamorizing something that would otherwise be plain and unexciting. To illustrate it even better, which sounds more impressive, ‘account executive’ or ‘ salesman’?”

i think the operative clause is: “to provide wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires.” make that “a damaged democracy,” like ours. so, yes, merong agenda, merong advocacy, merong activism ang pinoy internet journalism, which makes these news and op-ed blogs more important, more valuable than food and mommy blogs.

sure a food blog that keeps track of fish and meat prices or notes how the best mangoes and prawns are exported leaving us with the rejects is relevant, but only to a tiny sector of the population that can afford to eat well. to become more deeply and widely relevant, a food blog would have to get into the economic policies that bring about this state of affairs, i.e, get political, which sassylawyer has not been doing much of lately. can it be that she’s just tired of politics (lawyers have a problem, i find, with advocacy, how ironic) and just wants to cook and be a mom but still be relevant? wants to have her cake and eat it, too, but she can’t?

yeah, maybe one side of her doesn’t really give a hoot, but clearly an other side of her is quite upset, imbierna si motherblogger, at a particular group of pinoy bloggers:

“… in the Philippine context, there is a high-profile (meaning they are always visible in social events) group of bloggers intent on pushing the status of their Web publications as the embodiment of citizen journalism. They call themselves the New Media. The irony is that they consider Web publishers as handmaidens of mainstream media as though we are here simply to provide support. Secondly, these people are proponents of paid writing; meaning, they are amenable to receiving fees and/or freebies from business entities to write reviews about their products and services. . . . “To make matters even worse, some bloggers are now in the payroll of politicians.

“Truth be told, citizen journalism is fast becoming a lot like mainstream journalism -often biased and mostly about profits. I find writings about commuting blues, work-related stories, family picnics and non-sponsored trips and vacations more credible and deserving of the label citizen journalism.”

ang tindi, di ba. nagulumihanan na ako dahil siya rin naman ay tumatanggap ng bayad from advertisers, etc. as a professional blogger siya rin naman ay merong agenda at advocacy, at activist din siya about food and mommy stuff. what makes her different from the bloggers she disparages? what makes her so yabang? biglang, hmm, am i missing something here?

i needed a second opinion but the blogosphere is surprisingly silent, so i sent the link to my son joel all the way in holland – he’s why and how i got into blogging, my geek sounding board for all things techie. it was his first encounter with sassylawyer and his geeky take on it all is quite crisp and biting:

I’ve always associated ‘sassy’ with ‘slick and stylish’ and more along the lines of witty/ironic sarcasm rather than impertinent rudeness — this from observed contextual usage and onomatopoetically rather than knowledge of the actual definition (and there’s my grasp of the English language in a nutshell).

“And however disagreeable her writing, and even with ‘sass’ limited in definition to impudence and insolence (and none of the cool stuff I think it to be), her opinions and style simply don’t have the edge to be labeled as such. Like a teenager wanting to be labeled ‘bad-ass’ when she’s really just annoying. This kind of cutesy self-deprecating-but-actually-aggrandizing really pisses me off. Especially in someone of age.

“I’m not exposed to nearly enough of the Philippine blogging scene to counter her arguments. But surely she’s speaking of a rung far below yours — and the blogs you’re en-linked — on the blogging social/intellectual class/order. Given the relative ease with which you can publish on the web these days, you can expect the hacks to far out number those with opinion or perspective of any real value. And driven as most are by social pressure, economic opportunities, and fame for the claiming, what’s so surprising about so many turning into shills for government, products, and self promotion?

“Happens everywhere. And it’s the beauty of the blogging system that people like such are so easily called on it and exposed for the corporate or political puppets they are. Also, the gargantuan number of alternative reading available makes for a more discriminating audience which can usually spot a hard sell a mile away and look for good reading elsewhere.

“I think ‘citizen journalism’ is misused here — by those she describes as seeking to claim the title and maybe by her. The concept of ‘citizen journalism’ doesn’t — or at least, shouldn’t — allow any space for misuse as a propaganda machine. At its core, journalism isn’t about heart-felt writing (ridiculous!) but factual, accurate reporting with absolutely no spin. The citizen element comes from the contributory methods used in the gathering and production of the news report.

“A legitimate political news blog (if such a thing exists) is well within its rights to claim the citizen journalist title. One that has no agenda other than to report on politics and seeks neither to advocate nor promote activism. But a political op ed blogger would be the last to want that label — both because of such wide misuse and what it actually means in proper usage. Such a blog of any real value uses the medium as a publishing platform for expression of personal political ideology at the very least, or, acting as informed intermediary, as an instrument for educating readers in what’s good, bad, ugly, etc.

“But no way do writings about commuting blues, work-related stories, family picnics, etc. equal citizen journalism. Those are personal journals. Just because there isn’t enough legitimate citizen journalism doesn’t mean you dilute it’s meaning by associating it with something less deserving.

[aside] A lot of the technology news blogs I enjoy manage to report facts and figures with accuracy far beyond what traditional media is capable of because of the open forum that surrounds each news item/post where inaccuracies are caught quickly and the nature of web publishing which allows for easy updating. But they don’t strictly adhere to the tenets of straight journalism in that they’re not shy about skewing reports with personal distaste for something, let’s say, Microsoft-related, or great affection for, say, something that comes out of Apple’s ass.

This has actually proven to work very well for the publishers who can define their audience and the readers who can identify who they like to read — much as Negroponte described in the book cited in the report she mentioned. [end of aside]

“So anong tawag sa’yo? You’re a pundit, engaged in a form of civic journalism through your political/entertainment op ed blog with unmoderated commenting. Quite apart from that, you’re also a professional writer. You DO NOT want to be called a ‘citizen journalist’.

“There is a distinction between those who are paid to blog/write, and those who simply earn from blogging through advertising. The former are answerable to editorial standards and other traditional media underpinnings (let’s not piss off the political party of our allegiance, advertisers, bosses, etc.). The latter can write about whatever they want and say whatever they like about it and, when employing the most common type of blog advertising, will have ads tailored for relevance to their content — basically free from being answerable to anyone. It’s the same distinction as when you’re hired to write something specific for someone and when you’re free-styling on your blog.

“The “We Media” paper actually makes for interesting reading. I’ve attached a copy. But a quick read makes me wonder how much of it she herself actually read, or if she just took the quote and the gist from the wikipedia definition of citizen journalism.

“And wow, really, who still uses the term ‘cyberspace’? That’s so… 90’s. And, come on, the 90’s wasn’t just last decade anymore, it’s practically a decade ago already. Of age, I tell you.”

question is, what motivated that op ed piece lashing out at a specific group of “high-profile” bloggers. the only high-profile political bloggers i know of are manolo quezon and dean jorge bocobo and they are certainly the least likely to sell out to self-serving politicians. correct me if i’m wrong, please.


  1. Hindi ako masyadong nakaka-ride sa chika ninyong mga jeprox tungkol sa pagba-blog. Hehe.

    Gusto ko lang iulat na noong isang araw, mga bandang hapon, ilang beses kong pinipilit buksan ang website mo, Tita Angela, at hindi bumubukas.

    Baka inaatake na ito parang kay Ellen Tordesillas. Ayun, isa pang high-profile political blogger na hindi naman nabibili.

  2. ganoon? e napaka-smalltime ko naman, di ba, at low-profile. si ellen, oo, high-profile political blogger din. actually naisip ko na iba siya dahil mainstream media siya to begin with. pero pero si manolo din, no? e sino kayang tinutukoy ni cv? wala naman akong natitisod na blog labeled citizen journalist o new media. ikaw?

  3. Wala nga rin. Para tuloy bad breath iyang “citizen journalist” o “new media” — it’s always the other person who has it. Hehe. Kung nakokomentuhan ang pagiging passe ng nagsulat, baka imprecise siya sa puntong ito. Pero mayroon siya talagang inilalarawan. Maganda lang tinukoy niya.

  4. I suppose she misses being free. Free to think and free to write what’s on her mind. We bloggers are not contained nor restrained. Unlike professional bloggers, we are not tied to making money out of our blogs.