Think before you click, indeed

IT’S timely, relevant, important.

GMA News’ “Think Before You Click” campaign is probably the best (or only?) media literacy campaign on the digital life which — I daresay — can even save lives. It advocates responsible use of social media — an attitude critical in a time when information dissemination at a personal level is already quick and easy.

The Economist described our times well: with social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook (and now Google+ enters the scene), the world is back to the coffee house of 1700s America. Information is floating in the din of the pub; sometimes nobody knows where the information comes from, but it’s there, free for redistribution.

“Think Before You Click” simply reminds social media users to be wary about what they post on their bulletins or feeds; the information they post just might be used to harm them. Think the forgetful, grumpy employee who badmouths the boss who happens to be one of his Twitter followers. And the trigger-happy lass who takes photos of her house and posts it on Facebook, available for public ogling by robbers and kidnappers. Sad.

But that’s just one side of the campaign. “Think Before You Click” is primarily a reminder against unfair and maleficent use of social media. What do you do to a tweet informing you about an acquaintance’s supposed scandalous misdeed? RT? Indeed, people now should also get the ideal journalist’s nose for truth. One has to measure the veracity of tweets first before retweeting them, especially when they are about people — and especially when one has hundreds of followers. And we’re talking about information on private people here, non-celebs who have no claim to nor dream of fame, ordinary people who want to be let alone.

One big minus to GMA News’ campaign, however, is its inclusion of Carlos Celdran as a model of responsible social media use. While a talented person, Mr. Celdran is among the most rabid anti-Catholic social media users, some of whose tweets and retweets were far from fair to the people involved.

Then again, we as ordinary news consumers, should also throw back the “think before you click” mantra at GMA News and other members of the “media elite” (thanks to Arnel Endrinal for the term): Think before you click “Publish”. And, especially when your piece is so “explosive” that certain actually-important details might have disappeared into the background, think twice.

Wanted: truth and context

PCSO Chair Margie Juico might have indeed lied and committed perjury, or couldn’t distinguish one vehicle from another, or forgot as old people often do, when she said she never called those vehicles “Pajeros”.

That’s bad enough.

It’s worse, however, when all along — since the time Juico first used the “P” word in the bishops-receiving-donations-from-PCSO hullabaloo — the news media stuck with Juico’s false and sensational claim.

Whatever happened to “investigative journalism”?

Or even “journalistic journalism”? — if we really have to coin such a term.

It’s amazing how mainstream journalists were quick to spread such sensitive news without scratching the story’s surface for the real facts. They were satisfied with what the PCSO was saying. And the PCSO characters, it now turns out, are rather shady ones.

The same journalists also did not delve into the real-life context of the bishops’ use of the SUVs. Did they do research on the geographical conditions of the accused bishops’ respective dioceses? I come from a town near Butuan, and I know that mountain dirt roads there are far from being tuwid na landas and Porsche-friendly (some areas are also infested with rebels). For preachers who often have to travel on such terrain, a more powerful and durable vehicle is certainly needed, one which they could use in urban areas as well.

And did journalists bother to find out the dioceses’ various projects which used the controversial cars? If only there were primary sources from the dioceses in question, news consumers would have received something closer to the truthful reports they deserved.

Yes, here’s one wishing journalists pursued truth first, fast, and without fear — before their biases run them over.

UPDATED 20.VI.11 10:10 pm

‘Positive outlook, right suggestions’

IN another letter to the Inquirer, regular reader Fr. Cesilio Magsino is happily surprised by the paper’s “wise suggestions” with regard to a supposed impending world food crisis.

What a whiff of fresh air! That’s how I felt after reading the Inquirer’s June 16 editorial (“The coming crisis”) about the impending world food crisis. When I began reading it, I was all but set to jump to the conclusion that the Inquirer would surely recommend to curb our population growth so that there would be enough food for everyone. How glad I was to realize I was mistaken! There was no mention of such an idea.

Read the rest of the letter at the Inquirer website >>