Journalism on Trial: On Social Media and the Comment Section

(Continuing series on election related commentary) 

 Social Media Savagery 

As if social media hasn’t been toxic enough for us, the brouhaha of election season has turned it into what can only be described as a battlefield of bravado. People hide behind their screen names and obscure Facebook pages and their senseless pseudonyms in the comment sections of publications both local and abroad, and dare to post the most audacious election propaganda. Everything from rape accusations to doctored photographs to source-free quotations have made their way through social media, and, as elections draw near, they have begun to get worse. Most of these allegations have actually been proven false by counter posts, but, some are actually quite true and have had their share of repercussions for certain candidates.

But that isn’t even the worst of it. On the bright side, social media has shown us that we can be a politically aware nation. That we have things to say and that we’re open to demanding what our leaders should be giving us. We know what’s wrong, we know what we want, and we’re not afraid to say so. (NOTE: Whether you like it or not we have post Martial Law to thank for this).

Social media has become a venue to educate people– on Martial Law, on senatorial candidates, and on the things we probably should look out for come election day.

On the dark side, social media has shown us that people can be extremely close minded. That what’s wrong can be right when done by the right candidate. That if you don’t agree with someone, they’re automatically wrong. That it’s okay to wish someone get killed, or raped, or murdered because they bravely voiced out opposition to your chosen candidate.

Respect has become but a pipe dream in the toxic world of Facebook, and there’s no one else to blame but ourselves.

Verdict: 

At this moment, we are at a stage of uncertainty. Although surveys may seem to predict our president and VP, the elections haven’t happened yet– so we never really know. But what really scares me is how things will be after the elections.

Will broken friendships be repaired? will news sites not be filled with the most rabid internet trolls anymore? Will we even have this freedom post election season? It’s both a nerve wracking and a somewhat exciting prospect– perhaps there’s nothing left to do but hope for the best.

 

Judging Journ

Things were not this rabid six years ago. Nor were journalists being judged this much. But, there it goes. Social media strikes again and the internet is filled with ‘netizens’ that have come to chastise the country’s most experienced broadcasters for what can only be described as conspiracy theories (not saying this for ABS as a network, though).

Nicole Curato and Patricia Evangelista, two of Rappler’s best authored a series of profiles on the presidential candidates which were met with nothing but judgement, trolling and threats made out of shear bravado. But unlike other networks, these writers dealt in fact and did not even skew their work. I have to admit that I can’t say the same for other networks, though.

Verdict:

Maybe it’s good or maybe it’s bad for the journalistic profession, but one thing is for sure: the elections have had an impact on the way people view their news networks and the people behind these groups. My question is: now lang?

It’s sad how we aren’t like that on regular days. How our rabid fanaticism, and our critical eyes are only reserved for episodes of cognitive dissonance. This is closely intertwined with the previous issue, as some journalists and networks as a whole have received a myriad of  threats in the previous weeks. (Needless to say, they’ve had some snarky replies. Check Facebook for some of the best examples).

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