MANILA - A veteran journalist on Tuesday said Malacañang's accreditation of bloggers could send a signal to the public that journalists and bloggers with a huge following are equal and the same.
Speaking to ANC on Tuesday, Vergel Santos of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) stressed that training and discipline are the just two main factors that separate journalists from bloggers.
"The basic danger lies in effectively equating bloggers with journalists. You cannot equate the two. Blogging is an individualistic operation, a free-wheeling one. Journalism is an organized enterprise, with set and structures that [are] meant to ensure truth telling and truth seeking in the public interest," he said.
He said the practice of journalism is governed by rules of practice, ethics and tradition intended to ensure "taste, accuracy and as much truthfulness as could be ensured."
"Blogging is not like that. Practically anyone can blog. All one has to have is the technical tool, access to the Internet," he said.
For his part, Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) clarified that they do not intend to equate bloggers with journalists.
Ablan said the Palace is opening its doors to bloggers, who are part of the new media, and unlike journalists, who undergo vetting processes, can disseminate real time information.
"This is real time reporting. Mainstream media go through several vetting process. Therefore there might be a delay in reporting news. Bloggers are able to report immediately that's one of the things we need to cater," he said.
But Santos told Ablan that this reasoning might defeat the purpose of truth telling and fair revelation of events, and even encourage a "rush practice" when covering publicly relevant events.
"That's precisely my complaint, if that is a major reason for accrediting bloggers, it defeats the purpose of truth telling and fair revelation of events. You are encouraging a rush practice instead of a well-governed practice," he said.
Ablan, meanwhile, stressed that the PCO policy on accrediting bloggers is just temporary and that they would repeal if things do not go well.
"We have to recognize social media practitioners as messengers of information and the President wants to accommodate them," he added.
Bloggers who want Palace accreditation would have to meet the requirements, one of which is at least 5,000 followers on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
Assistant Secretary for Social Media Mocha Uson, a staunch Duterte supporter, handles the applications for accreditation. Despite this, Ablan said the social media policy is "politically neutral."