The University of Santo Tomas (UST) recently got burned by an on-line news publication that criticized the University's closeness with impeached Chief Justice Corona. UST came out with all cylinders whining. Among the complaints was the notion that bloggers and on-line publication s are not really journalism and do not deserve the same right of access to information as mainstream media.
"Uh, hello, brain-challenged university people", you are trying to define journalism as a box that is the same as when TV joined the fray back in the late 1940's. Journalism in the internet era has shifted to warp speed and the University is still poking along cranking dials on its RCA Victor cabinet radio. And blaming everyone else for going too fast.
I rather think UST is trying to gain back the face it lost in this incident, and is doing it by putting down writers it deems as lacking authority. UST, being an institution of higher learning, pretends to hold a position of higher authority than obscure writers.
Of course UST holds no high position. It is just a university, posturing to cover an embarrassment.
Being a blogger and claiming no journalistic skill except the sound of my typewritten voice, I have a suggestion for UST officials. Accept accountability for what you can control and stop trying to put modern information and opinion makers into YOUR old box. Draw up a list of media outlets who qualify for your information and only issue information to them. If Joe America requests information, ask him to identify his purpose, provide credentials and give you a LINK so you can find out first hand what he writes about.
Then, as you expect of your students, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. And make a decision and live with the outcome, good or bad.
You can add him to your list or simply decline to give him information (accepting that he may report that you declined). But you do not have the right to try to put him into some "unqualified" box that suggests to others that he doesn't measure up. You don't have the right to declare anyone "non-journalistic", when you are the institution that holds to an outdated 1940's version of what the word means.
Even back in the 1970's when I got my Master's Degree in Radio and Television Arts at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, we were having a hard time defining network television "news". It was so shaded by opinion, entertainment or bias that it was hard to find objective reporting. The drift toward entertainment and opinion as news has continued, and blogging thrives at the edge of this enormous arena of healthy idea-exchange.
. . . the idea exchange that UST would like to see constrained by labels.
Most publishers approach news with a bias. Get Real Post, Joe America, Fox News Channel , Wall Street Journal, Playboy Magazine.
Diversity is the beauty of the internet age.
Almost every blogger, online journal, or mainstream news outlet is driven by one common goal: get audience. They get audience by going after juicy stories, jazzing up their presentation, or appealing to a specific subset of audience. Indeed, some blogs I've read are more fact-based than much of the news on ABS-CBN, which tends toward disasters, blood and gore, or cross-marketing features about the network's drama stars.
Talk about twisting journalistic integrity. Where is UST on that matter? Or obscene practices like raising the sound of commercials or running 45 minutes of advertising per hour during Pacquiao fights. Is UST afraid to attack the wealthy station owners? So it crabs about bloggers like some cranky grandma with her bloomers hitched up too tight? .
My own blog writing is weighted roughly 35% on literary style, 35% on perspective, 25% on opinion and 5% on facts. You can exclude me from your label "journalist". Hell, call me a fiction writer if you want. Go ahead and exclude me from any information you put out. Readers will keep on reading if they are inspired to think or are entertained, not because they have to go through some intellectually masturbatory exercise of categorizing me to satisfy the whiny whims of a stuck-in-the-mud university.
Give me a break.
The internet information age is dynamic because it permits the reader to find anything he wants. He is not limited to the news rag with its need to appeal to 8th grade level readers of little intellect or curiosity. The internet news junkie can skim hundreds of publications rather than be held to the two channels delivered to the boob tube that UST favors. Diversity rules.
So what really is UST's complaint?
- The rest of the world is moving too fast, and we can't keep up.
- "You hurt my sensitive feelings by criticizing UST, and now I need to get even to regain face."
- "I can't pick on important people, so I will show my authority by going after little people."