Are You A Journalist Or A Blogger?

By Luchie Aclan Arguelles

WRITERS seem to be confused or unsure of the hat they wear vis-à-vis their role in the universe. At one time, the Palace was inclined to give Press accreditation to bloggers. Duh!? There were utter objections from true-blue journalists who, after all, did not just mushroom from nowhere. 

So here I am writing my thoughts on this query, in the simplest terms.

In a newsroom, a would-be journalist goes through a needle’s eye to get a beat or coverage assignment. A cub reporter usually starts with police beat and evolves into a strike-everywhere, except for specialized and prime assignments like Malacañang, Senate, House, the Supreme Court, and Banking. 

Where before the likes of Customs, Immigration and Airport, Environment, Agriculture, and other “Bopis” beats were minor assignments, most of these are now next to prime.  Bopis refers to government offices around the Quezon Memorial Circle and East Avenue hospitals – Lung, Heart, Kidney.

 

The Ranking

Editors are the generals of the newsroom and under them are deskmen, the whip lashers, whose ink-dirtied fingers make the printed version come out. Budding reporters don’t become deskmen until they are seasoned and had made a round of the minor and primary assignments.

Correspondents are contributors covering less important beats and the provinces. They are recognized by the publication or stations to submit enterprise stories but with due deference to reporters in charge of the particular beat.

Columnists, on one hand, are specific to the theme appointed to them by the editor or publisher, say, political, educational, religious, science and technology, etc. 

All of these are journalists with specific space, time-bound, and constrained by the editorial policies of their media entities , and by the strictures embodied in the Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

And, ah, yes. They are collectively called the Media. The Medium. The ones in between the source and readers or listeners as purveyors of truth. Yes, THE Truth, balanced and fair.

 

Where do bloggers fit in?

With the inception of the information highway in the early 80s, an infinite space opened up for digital communications that eventually gave birth to the Internet. This time was when the term “social media” evolved in this alternative platform.

Bloggers of all shapes, sizes, color, creed, and persuasion occupied their own space in their own time. 

What I can say is that bloggers cannot claim to be journalists but journalists can be bloggers. Unless the former go through the newsroom hierarchy and reporting rigors, bloggers stay as writers in their own space. 

If journalists have their own ethical standards to abide by, bloggers do, too.  There is no such thing as absolute freedom, Bloggy.

The Journalists’ Code of Ethics is like what Ten Commandments is to Christians. In the 1920s, Walter Williams (1864-1935) penned this creed in the hope of professionalizing journalism. Williams founded the world's first school of journalism at the University of Missouri.

In 2007, Tim O’Reilly of the O’Reilly Media, Inc. came up with the idea to craft a Bloggers’ Code of Conduct to “enforce civility on their blogs by being civil themselves and moderating comments”. 

As  early as 2009, there already existed unidentified bloggers and anonymous trolls who posted abusive language and threats.  The term “trolls” were already used as these bloggers were believed to be puppets or mouthpiece of certain groups.

Whether writing online or offline, one must self-regulate and take responsibility.

The National Press Club disseminates the code to advance professional standards while promoting free expression and mutual respect.

So there.

*****

JOURNALIST's CREED

I believe in the profession of Journalism.

I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of lesser service than the public service is a betrayal of this trust.

I believe that clear thinking, clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism.

I believe that a journalist should write only what he holds in his heart to be true. I believe that suppression of the news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible.

I believe that no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman; that bribery by one's own pocket book is as much to be avoided as bribery by the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another's instructions or another's dividends.

I believe that advertising, news and editorial columns should alike serve the best interests of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.

I believe that the journalism which succeeds the best-and best deserves success-fears God and honors man; is stoutly independent; unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power; constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of the privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance, and as far as law, an honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship, is a journalism of humanity, of and for today's world.

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