PCOO’S PLAN FOR VLOGGERS A MISPLACED PRIORITY?
The plan to accredit vloggers so they can attend the briefings for media practitioners at the Malacañang is problematic on every level.
Incoming Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said one of the priorities of the Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) under her leadership would be the accreditation of vloggers so they can attend the briefings or press conferences of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
We want to believe Angeles has the best intentions with her proposal, but the experience we have with vloggers, especially those used for political propaganda or those tapped to propagate disinformation is very telling of the possible outcome of this plan.
On the other hand, the plan might be good; if the PCOO will accredit vloggers who are critical of the government and those who can contribute to eleva-ting political discourses, and not only those who will be biased towards the administration, or worse, those who will twist information or the narrative to suit what the government wants.
If the PCOO will only accredit vloggers who will blindly follow or mimic what the government tells them or worse, vloggers who will propagate lies and deception, Angeles might as well abandon her idea.
As veteran journalist Vergel Santos, a trustee of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, puts it: “ A blogger (or vlogger for that matter) decides for himself or herself. A journalist does not. A journalist, apart from being put through a rigorous training in the discipline and skills, apart from that, a journalist’s works are put through a system of checks to ensure that the information disseminated is truthful, well contextualized and not malicious. Bloggers don’t understand those things”.
While we await the guidelines of this proposal, we reiterate that we uphold the people’s right to know as guaranteed by the Constitution and we welcome initiatives that would give the public wider access to information, which can be achieved by granting vloggers access to presidential briefings.
If the intention of the incoming Press secretary in accrediting vloggers is to widen the landscape in which the public can get legitimate information and logically interpreted facts or arguments that do not defy reason, the plan is welcome.
If the PCOO can guarantee that the vloggers it will accredit are knowledgeable and can uphold the standards of journalism, practiced by legitimate media practitioners and if it can assure that the accredited vloggers will be held responsible for any ethical and professional breach, we would support her idea.
However, if the plan is geared towards building a positive image for the administration through lies and deception, disseminated through twisted information and illogical arguments, which some vloggers and some governments have succeeded in, then it only shows Angeles does not deserve to be holding the position in the first place.
As legitimate members of the Fourth Estate, we do not see the need for the PCOO to prioritize the accreditation of vloggers.
The government has an existing vast communication network that helps bring information to the public. These communication arms are enough to inform and explain to the people the government’s programs and policies; unless the government does not have confidence in the very institutions created for this job.
We do not need individuals who resort to lies and deception, twisted logic, and harassment. The public deserve better than being fed with information and opinions based on illogical reasoning.
The public needs a media that is critical and independent to help safeguard citizens from potential abuses. After all, a critical press and a critical public make democracy work.