Rappler.com on Citizen Journalism


Radio, TV and newspapers are the only news sources whenever one wants to know events in a particular place and time decades ago. Called as traditional media, journalism rights are only exclusive to those Journalism graduates with direct contact to public officials, concerned individuals and editors personally choose what story to post. Announcement of news can be predicted and even show same patterns of problems such as poverty and corruption over and over again. “We noticed that there is a need for paradigm shift in journalism and that is how citizen journalism is conceived” says Chay Hofilena, Rappler.com's Citizen Journalism Director.

Citizen journalism is an emerging field in journalism that taps ordinary citizens to be part of news gathering, reporting and feedback. Rappler.com is a social news network founded by veteran journalists lead by Maria Ressa that uses citizen journalism to bring social change through a platform using the latest technologies.


Rappler.com uses leading social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to practice citizen journalism's two advantages: it is a self-correcting mechanism (typo errors are noticed easily) and no monopoly over knowledge (hashtag use on Twitter allows persons concerned from different sides of the story to join). Rappler.com has unique features currently not being seen on other competitor sites: Mood meter (readers can rate what they feel about a certain topic i.e. happy, sad...) and Collaboration (encouraging investigative projects such as corruption in Beaureu of Customs), live and recorded newscasts and Thought Leaders were persons under their respected expertise shares their views about a topic. 

Citizen journalism has also dilemmas: journalism vs advocacy (how to keep its journalism standards to be fair at the same time pushing advocacy of worthy non-government organizations), professionalism (or amateurism) reputation of citizen journalists or mostly bloggers and views they maintain (does it conform to the commercial, business interests and editorial standards) and last are these citizen journalists get paid?

Citizen journalist need not have a huge camera and audio recorder, only an iPhone. He or she must know how to write, take a photo, edit video and maintain editorial standards using iPhone. A usual contribution to Rappler is 500-600 words and 1200-1500 for full length story.

When it comes to challenges, on top of the rank is the low internet access in the Philippines, the Mood Meter's integrity issue (different browsers allow readers to click more than once) and a less than twenty manpower to do a 24/7 work that includes scheduling of posts like what story to publish (what matters the most). 

Presence to mobile devices is what they see as something they need to push as well in the future. One very good thing that they look forward is to hire young ones who has the skills, flexibility and does not complain. With 20, 000+ Twitter followers and growing number of viewers, Manny V Pangilinan (MVP) a renowned Filipino usinessman recently expressed its interest to buy Rappler.com which also poses a challenge to maintain its journalism standards when it comes to business related concerns. "What do you think is MVPs reason why he wanna buy Rappler.com?" I ask. "Because of great content that sets us apart from others". She replied.

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