Back in 2003, a good friend introduced me to Xanga, a New York-based website that hosts weblogs, photoblogs, and social networking profiles. It’s also the time when Friendster was the talk of the town.
“Do you have a Friendster?” my friend asked. “I’m not familiar with it, since it’s banned here in the Middle East,” I replied.
“Ah you better try Xanga instead. We need to hear something from you. Write about your experiences. This is much better while we are waiting for you to have a Friendster account.”
Every Saturday, on my usual day off, I update my blog and create a blog post – random things that I have encountered throughout the week working as a service crew in a family restaurant in Abu Dhabi. I write about my roommates, my manager, the ethnically diverse city I work and live in, the fancy things I see in Dubai, the movies I watch whenever I do a movie marathon (I have an Indian supplier of DVDs and VCDs), and things that make me happy and sad (being away from my family and all).
On a personal level, my blog serves as the outlet of the little writer in me – the kid who started joining Journalism classes since 3rd grade.
Fast-forward to present time, I left Xanga and started maintaining a blog here on WordPress. I signed up for an account in 2007 and resurrected it in 2008 when I started writing for a broadsheet. Practically, this blog serves as repository of my published news, features, and column articles.
A lot of people have been asking me to use my blog to earn money but I always say that the purpose of maintaining it is for my write-ups to have their own home apart from appearing in newsprint.
Whenever I attend press conferences (I write for Entertainment section) I always meet bloggers. They call themselves members of the online media, and if you encountered people who have high opinion of themselves, they would rub it on your face: “We are from the New Media.” (With one eyebrow raised).
Ouch, that makes me, a writer from a traditional medium, Jurassic now.
I respect the way bloggers write blog posts and I totally believe that in terms of accessibility, they are at the forefront. They set out a new publishing direction because they are fast.
In the Philippines, there are so many bloggers that have turned their simple online spaces into an outlet like mine but many of them as well use these blogs for livelihood, which is perfectly fine for me (kanya-kanyang buhay lang yan, walang pakialaman). There are bloggers who are sarcastic, highly intelligent, highly subversive, very funny and entertaining, and there are those who just copy paste and enjoy the pageviews that should’ve landed on the real author’s page. You know, copyright in the internet is a fuzzy idea, I think.
One time, I was invited to cover a media briefing. An international artist was about to stage a concert at the Araneta Coliseum. After the brief event, we were asked to take our dinner in a separate room. While I was having a conversation with friends from the leading newspapers in the country I overheard someone saying: “We are waiting for our tickets.” Not actually overheard because I was just sitting across him/her/them on the round table.
In every event, journalists enjoy perks that for me, not the center of my attention and purpose why I attend press conferences. And there’s this blogger insisting that a ticket to the concert must be given to him (in a tone like it’s an ultimatum). Yes, how is he supposed to review the concert without a ticket to the show? But that’s not the point.
My colleagues and my friends in the print media, I believe, do not welcome the idea that bloggers are dominating the lifestyle and entertainment beats. We do not own the information, we do not claim that we are the only people entitled to disseminate information, but we have to emphasize that there are proper steps and ladders t before someone is entrusted with this kind of responsibility.
Do you trust a blogger? I do but there are always many buts that I would have to take in consideration.
I have read it somewhere saying that blogging is unethical, I say it’s pioneering. They say bloggers are journalist wannabes, I say writing is their passion. They can’t take over, not by a long shot, but we have to admit that their growing dominance helps a lot to spread important messages. But I still do not get the idea why some of them ask for the same treatment journalists receive in press conferences, they even assert that they must be given more attention.
If there’s a concert, and the PR don’t give me a ticket, I don’t insist. I don’t care if a ticket would be given to me or not. Anyway, I always receive complementary tickets, which I don’t even use most of the time. This is the thing I do not understand with the blogger/s I met during the said event.
In other occasion, there was this big press conference and many members of the media were invited. The venue was becoming full as every minute passed and there was this group of “lifestyle bloggers” that occupied a long table and reserved seats for their friends who came late. And during the event proper, these people didn’t stop asking the celebrities to pose with them for quick snaps. As far as I know, and based on my own experience, journalists do not do such things (the photos on the left side of this blog are photo opportunities…yes I’m quick to defend myself).
Well, I hope bloggers remain bloggers. Like the bloggers I read everyday. They write for personal reasons. They comment on things they see in politics, in entertainment, and in every people’s life. They don’t depend on press releases and act as if they studied in a prominent school and had a master’s degree in communication.
I was a blogger before a journalist that’s why I respect the established medium that helps me spread the word. If I use my blog to send a message across, like what I have mentioned, it is on a personal level and does not intend to intrude other people’s defined spaces.
I’m really glad local newspapers already have their own online versions. Without them, these bloggers I know would claim that they are more influential and prominent than ordinary journalists in the country.