The official definition of ‘social news network’ @rapplerdotcom

I came across some chatter on Twitter today regarding some kind of issue around something “veteran journalist” Marites Vitug wrote about the Philippines’ University of Santo Tomas reportedly granting a doctorate in law, summa cum laude, to Chief Justice Renato Corona without requiring a dissertation. I’m thinking, whatever. Granting degrees and distinctions on any person, in my opinion, is in principle at the full discretion of a learning institution. A university’s reputation is built upon the quality of its products and, as such, the UST is at liberty to stake its reputation on Corona who now bears the university’s credentials.

Vitug, being a journalist, made a story out of it. That’s what journalists do, in the same way scorpions can’t help but sting. People are free to decide whether said story makes a compelling case, in the same way we decide whether universities like the UST are not the sort that simply parcel out academic credentials for the heck of it. There really is nothing complicated about that.

The more interesting aspect of this latest buzz making waves among the chattering classes of the Philippine “social media” scene is how much of it has to do with the newest “in” thing making waves, the “social news network” site Rappler.com.

Whatever it is a “social news network” is, the term is already being bandied around. On a post on the site hyping the questionable notion that “online journalism is the future” (a misleading title considering that that article is actually a response to a position the UST has taken not to respond to Vitug’s “report” which was published on Rappler), the term is presented with some air of authority at the foot of the “report”…

Rappler is a social news network, whose journalists have worked for global news organizations and top Filipino news groups. We are proud to be “online journalists.” We promise uncompromised journalism that inspires smart conversations and ignites a thirst for change.

The link in the above snippet leads to the “About” page of Rappler.com. Sifting through all the tired platitudes about the honour of being in the proud practice of journalism yielded not a single trace of clarification around the term “social news network”.

So I might do what I do best which is define the term for the editors of Rappler.

A social news network is an information dissemination system where the information being disseminated is given the label “news”. The system is composed of elements that can be broadly categorised as (1) content creators (2) content consumers, and (3) content contributors. The network domain is bound by the medium which serves as the repository within which information persists. The network is “social” because the elements that form said network are people.

In short, the term “social news network” is nothing new. It is just one instance of what has long been the memetic information exchange network that has existed since the first “ugh” by a caveman was given meaning by another caveman who happened to be within earshot of said utterance.

If Rappler wants to describe itself as such, the only thing missing is in how it defines its domains (which means, defining what binds it) so that it can be considered to be a persistent network with an identity (which really is just a hi-fallutin’ way of saying, Rappler should tell us what it stands for and how it distinguishes itself in the broader social media network in more precise terms). Indeed, the definition above already applies to “social media” at large — an information dissemination superstructure where boundaries have been blurred by the features of the technology platforms that give it life.

So can Rappler.com really distinguish itself using such a term as “social news network”?

In my opinion, it’s overcommitted itself to a notion it hardly understands. Even as I write this, the chattering classes exchanging disembodied 140-character snippets that pass off as “insight” are struggling to wrap their heads around what exactly the term means. I think they struggle because they are trying to backward-engineer the concept to something that fits what Rappler aspires to be. The trouble is, as I already pointed out above, the term “social news network” is essentially a nonsensical term. As the Rappler.com folk like to continuously emphasise, they are a team of “online journalists” — essentially combining a new concept, online, with a dinosaurian one, journalist. Result: convolusion.

Indeed, despite Rappler.com‘s claim to being the new new “thing”, it introduces Vitug in a very traditional way…

The request for a University of Sto Tomas (UST) position was made by Marites Danguilan-Vitug, whose body of work as a journalist stretches back 30 years and is the author of one of the world’s top 10 books on courts and justice systems, “Shadow of Doubt.” She is the founder of Newsbreak, which has operated as a magazine and online for more than a decade until it joined Rappler in December 2011.

That sounds like something my grampa would write, guys.

Credentials work for people who need to earn respect before the fact of earning it. But in a mass communications ecosystem that is rapidly flattening thanks to the very technology that the Rappler.com copywriters fail to demonstrate a savvy understanding of, credentials are becoming less relevant. Rather, the ability to persist as a credible source of insight is now built directly upon the merit and quality of what one says and writes consistently. And that is what “social news networks” ultimately do — turn news and the “reporters” who “report” them to the no more than the commodities that they are today.

print

Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

Leave a Reply

39 Comments on "The official definition of ‘social news network’ @rapplerdotcom"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
BenK
Editor

I said I was going to be open-minded about this new thing, but it took them only a day with one traditionally-pinoy gossipy story and a whole lot of self-promotion to put paid to that idea.

Parallax
Guest

i saw their promo video, and despite their claims of objectivity and being beholden to nobody, as soon as i saw lala rimando (abs-cbn) whose unsubstantiated writing is partly responsible for causing banco filipino a bank run in march 2011, my eyes rolled. more bullshit coming our way.

Vincenzo B. Arellano
Guest

Wla na talaga kredibilidad si Corona. Lahat ginawa para makuha ang gusto nya. Hnd ako mgugulat kung guilty sya sa impeachment. Dpat nya pagbayaran ang kanyang mga kasalanan

Don
Guest

Go back to fapping over Kris Aquino. She’ll appreciate it.

Domingo Arong
Guest

“Tsismis Network” (instead of “social news network’) operated by “Internet Tsismosas” (instead of intenet journalists) would be the apt terms to describe the operation and the operators.

BenK
Editor

I’m just very disappointed to see so much potential talent wasted on irrelevancies.

ChinoF
Member

The Vitug article smacks of personal motivations against someone rather than a real desire to get to the truth. It may even be “twisted” truth in the end.

Perhaps UST should indeed release a statement slamming the Vitug article and urging people to be more responsible.

Parallax
Guest

be MORE responsible?

for that to happen, they have to BE responsible first.

BenK
Editor

No they shouldn’t. Is Marites Vitug in a position to judge UST’s criteria for the awarding of doctoral degrees? Of course not, unless she is a member of the Board of Regents. What she’s produced is an opinion. Take it or leave it, everyone’s entitled to one. If UST responds, all they’re doing is acknowledging that their own standards are subject to review by some blogger.

Edgy Dulds
Guest

Rappler.com ‘s news are more opinion and always biased. Good (positive) news are too light for them to handle and they love bad (negative) news.

ChinoF
Member

Gotcha, guys. After looking at the lineup of the people behind it, I’m included to have a bucket of salt with me.

ChinoF
Member

‘inclined’ not included, ugh.

thelongfallofprose
Guest

Manny Pacquiao, anyone?

ChinoF
Member

One of Rappler’s writers, Purple Romero, described her experience at being unable to get an interview from UST. It’s as if she’s posturing that as a journalist, she should be granted interviews when she demands it. Makes me think, some are letting the “journalist” label get to their heads.

Hyden Toro
Guest

Journalism in the Philippines, has prostituted itself to Patron Politicians; who pay them for their services rendered. By sanitizing the stink of their Patron Politician; grooming his/her image….so that she/he will be accepted by the voters…In social media, there are some bloggers, who do the same. By the way they write: you will know them. By the way they write: it’s easy to spot a blogger who is promoting any vested interest…

trackback

[…] come to Rappler.com, which claims to be a “social news network” (go figure that one out here). I tweeted on New Years Eve, “The question is who is funding #rappler? That will be basis […]

jay
Guest

rappler is the yellows attempt to promote their views on social media.
there is nothing independepent or balanced about it.
it has been 1 year in planning and is very secretive about its funding, which in itself says a lot.
sad that maria ressa would be involved. clearly her last pay day/pension

Don
Guest

Rappler is so low on real dissertation, a porno site has better content.

trackback

[…] Secretary Ramon “Mon” Jimenez announced in a private sit-down conversation with “social news network” site Rappler.com his decision to “crowd-source” a new Philippine tourism campaign […]

trackback

[…] Going to the dogs — an article about the manner with which Ressa’s self-described “social news network” startup precipitated (and possibly encouraged) a broader “ganging up” on the […]

trackback

[…] sorts of observations made about the way it “reports” the news and presumes to be a “social news network” made up of a clique of “online […]

trackback

[…] we noted how “social news network” site Rappler.com, an organisation of “online journalists” who promise […]

Guesti
Guest

Don’t bother mentioning them and giving them free advertising. They don’t deserve it.

trackback

[…] 31, 2012By benign0According to Chay Hofileña, Director of “citizen journalism” for “social news network” site Rappler.com journalists are “neither lawyers nor judges” and are, from the […]

trackback

[…] in this noble industry too soon. You can tell though what sort of priorities a “social news network” like Rappler applies in its reporting practice in the way this teleserye fodder of a report was […]

trackback

[…] Ressa said, will hopefully move people to positive action.” Rappler also fancies itself a “social news network” that promises “uncompromised journalism that inspires smart conversations and ignites a […]

trackback

[…] horizon in late 2011 and early 2012, Rappler.com popped up out of nowhere pitching itself as a “social news network”, a concept that even Rappler “thought leaders” fail to convincingly define clearly […]

trackback

[…] for a “social news network” (a term its “thought leaders” struggle to define), Rappler seems to struggle to keep its Establishment identity from shining through its veneer of […]

wpDiscuz