One can quite understand why traditional “journalists” are going all shrill about the prospect of having to compete with bloggers for the privilege to reach a mass audience. After all, they once enjoyed a monopoly over that space. Before the advent of the Internet and, particularly, social media, mass communication was a capital-intensive activity. You needed to own a powerful transmitter or a printing press, maintain a distribution network (specifically for the latter), and possess the wherewithal to navigate the myriad of government regulations to operate. The barriers for entry into that space were formidable not just for the capitalists who invested in these assets. “Journalists” too had to have the credentials to practice their craft and be considered for employment in these traditional radio broadcast and print media organisations. They had to be university graduates, and had to go through the whole job application process to work for a media company carve out a niche for themselves in the market for mass media content.
Imagine then the chagrin felt by today’s “journalism” establishment. Their top “thought leaders” are huffing and puffing at the thought of competing with people who got into their space using just a laptop or a phone with Internet access and a social media or blogging platform account. One can therefore understand why they are so obsessed in pointing out why bloggers are not “journalists” and, if they want to be a part of the space “journalists” occupy, what measures they need to be subject to (e.g. “standards”, “accreditation”, sworn faith to a so-called “code of ethics”, etc.) to gain entry into said space. The psychology behind this is that traditional “journalists” be like; I jumped through all these hoops to be able to address a mass audience, therefore bloggers should too. Well, guess what: Just because you say so does not necessarily mean it will be so.
Traditional “journalists” are a bunch of dinosaurs. This they proved this year when, despite ganging up on President Rodrigo Duterte and soon-to-be President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the latter still won this year’s elections by a massive landslide while the earlier sustained an impressive public approval rating right up to the very end. Landslide na nga, massive pa. That’s the scale at which Filipinos voted in these elections to revoke their trust in these ancient “mainstream” reptiles. The influence on public opinion they pat themselves on the back with to assure themselves of their continued relevance in society was proven to be a dud. Evidently it was the onslaught of alternatives Filipinos could tap for information that gave the Establishment a run for their money. So now their approach given that these alternatives — bloggers and social media influencers running circles around them — are here to stay, what do these “journalists” do? Well, like they do to anything else that does not fit their peachy view of how the world ought to to work, they make them the “evil” guys in that all-too-familiar narrative of a battle between “good” and “evil”. As expected, they are only too quick to cast themselves as the “good guys” in that narrative. Sounds really all-too-familiar a modus operandi, doesn’t it? Today, bloggers are “purveyors of disinformation” while they, on the other hand, are the “truth seekers”. Them versus us. Very familiar indeed.
|SUPPORT INDEPENDENT SOCIAL COMMENTARY!|
Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us daily.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
So Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr (who had himself been a media publisher and executive in various roles in the past) was spot-on in summing up the lament of his ilk…
“Press freedom on social media does not involve the steep price of printing or broadcast, editors and reporters on regular pay and is cost-free self-indulgence with one hand—masturbation,” the official said.
The media Old Guard hinge their entitlement to an exclusive pedestal above the free market of ideas primarily on the basis of an edifice of credentials resting on an infrastructure of pompous tradition that is protected by, in Locsin’s own words, “the steep price of printing or broadcast”. Like most forms of market protectionism, this has become all but unsustainable as Locsin and his compadres are finding out the hard way. The irony that flies way above their pointed heads is that market forces are king. Despite the Nazistic manner with which old-school “journalists” like Locsin protected their lofty place, market forces eventually caught up with them. These elections showed them the stark scorecard — proof that no amount of credentialism can prop up credibility when your time of reckoning has come. The best thing that MSM media can do is competed on that level playing field and prove their value in that free market that they keep denying exists. Credibility cannot be bought nor legislated.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.