Citizen journalists and advocates bring technology to communities
MANILA, Philippines – Technology and social media can change a person's life and his community. A viral photo helped a street child pursue his education. A Facebook post opened up opportunities for children in conflict areas. An online clamor helped saved the life of an overseas Filipino worker.
This is why MovePH, Rappler's civic engagement and citizen journalism arm, harnesses technology and online platforms to tell stories and advocate issues.
From September to November 2016, Rappler and MovePH members went around the Philippines for an anti-corruption drive dubbed #NotOnMyWatch caravan. They trained civil society groups, government agencies, and academic institutions on how to report corruption through the #NotOnMyWatch platform.
During their trips to Cebu, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, and Laguna, the team also conducted workshops on disaster communication through Agos eBayanihan and citizen journalism through X, Rappler's free self-publishing platform.
The power of technology
During these workshops, MovePH equipped participants with important tools that will enable them to engage in civic action and storytelling.
Those who completed the Agos eBayanihan test and had the best #NotOnMyWatch pledges were given MyPhone units which they can use for their advocacies and stories.
"In times of disasters, information is as critical as food and shelter. People are always looking for ways to communicate with their families," according to MovePH Executive Director Rupert Ambil.
The participants also used the smartphones to report corruption to MovePH's #NotOnMyWatch bot via the Facebook's Messenger App.
"It's very easy to use and very reliable when I'm using the Internet. It's very sturdy so I can use it for my school work," according to Annie Rafio, a student from the PHINMA University of Iloilo, who won a phone.
"This will help me communicate faster and better with other people. It would be easy for me to pursue my advocacy and practice responsible social media behavior," Rafio added.
For AJ Sultan from AMA Sta Cruz Laguna, smartphones help him spread the right information.
"This will help me to become updated with the current events and to share relevant updates to my classmates," he said.
Based on a survey conducted in Metro Manila, respondents said that the top uses of smartphones are for messaging and interaction apps. Meanwhile, up to 73% of the responders take photos or video using their smartphones. Around 45% browse the Internet, 44% join social networking sites, and 37% check their emails via smartphones.
The Philippines is the fastest-growing smartphone market in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to the International Data Corporation.
Innovation in storytelling
In his conversations with citizen journalists and advocates, Ambil shared how Rappler was built on a smartphone.
"Everyone, even the editors, had to learn how to use a smartphone for storytelling. We shot, edited, and wrote our stories using our smartphones," according to Ambil, who is one of the pioneering members of the social news network.
This innovation gave birth to Rappler's first multimedia reporters in the Philippines who used smartphones for their stories.
Five years after, smartphones have become an important tool for both reporters in the field and citizen journalists in communities. – With a report from Abigail Abigan/Rappler.com