by Alexandra Gabrielle Francisco

Amid the rise of citizen journalism, ethics cannot be phased out, said head Howie Severino today in a forum on social media organized by Yahoo! Philippines at the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati City.

Without foolproof ways of “policing” net content, it is up to the citizen journalist to practice ethical journalism, said Severino.

“We still need to have ways to safeguard the truth and making sure that what we write and what we distribute to the public are factual and relevant and significant,” said Severino.

Veteran reporter Ellen Tordesillas of VERA Files said citizen journalists should still verify before posting, ask permission before reposting other people’s post, and link sources to corroborate their stories.

“’You should conduct yourself in social media forums with an eye to how your behavior or comments might appear.’  In other words, don’t behave online any differently than you would in any public setting,” said Tordesillas, quoting from the National Public Radio guidelines on social media.

Severino said part of the duty of “policing the Internet” falls on professional journalists, citing how verifies the information it receives from citizen journalists and filters the questions sourced from viewers.

Joey Alarilla, Social Media Editor of Yahoo! Southeast Asia, said the challenge for online media is to be ‘a friend in (people’s) social network,’ with established media needing to gain the trust of the people.

“It’s not that (media institutions) have built-in advantage,’ said Alarilla.

Alan Soon, Managing Editor, Yahoo! Southeast Asia said the task of the online journalist is to build dialogue on relevant issues using different platforms.

The “multimedia storyteller” should be adept with using photo, video and other medium and be ready to adopt new tools, said Soon.

The Internet, where print, radio and television will converge, will eventually be accessible virtually everywhere in the country, although it will not replace traditional media, Severino said.


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