Of the few rotten tomatoes in the online basket

Reactions to allegations of corruption mirror the need to further discuss the issue of commercialization and corruption in the online world

MANILA, Philippines – Rappler’s November 23 article entitled, Is corruption of the media creeping online? elicited varied reactions from social media users. 

Negative or positive, concurring or violent, the comments did not only show the need to further discuss the issue of commercialization and corruption in the online world, it also provided an insight into the workings of the blogosphere, which many are still unaware of. 

Small percentage

Netizens agreed that corruption has indeed penetrated their ranks but a number of commenters stressed that such instances only represent a minority.

“Out there, there’s only a handful of ‘loot bag bloggers — they’re the rotten tomatoes in a basket full of fresh, red tomatoes,” coolbuster, blogger at coolbuster.net, said in a comment to the article.

Another comment, made by jrplaza, said the so-called “loot bag” bloggers are just a “pinch” of the blogosphere.

Bloggers are too diverse to be lumped into a singular category, wrote Bjorn Bernales, as bloggers cover different niches and talk about different topics. 

“And yes, there are bloggers who are entrepreneurs, who are journalists, who are into fashion, showbiz and other niches.  Knowing how diverse bloggers are, it should be taken to mind that they should be treated differently and not put them into a circle that generalizes them to be one and the same,” he wrote. 

Because bloggers are a diverse bunch, some believe using a group of bloggers catering to a specific niche to provide an example to the wider problem of corruption is problematic.

To serve as a starting point in discussing the issue of media corruption online, the article quoted a source saying that a certain group of “mostly mom bloggers” have been attending events only if loot bags are distributed afterwards. 

Some mom bloggers said there was no point in singling them out. One of them was Jane Uymatiao, blogger at thephilippinebeat.blogspot.com and a member of Blog Watch. 

Code of ethics?

Given the issues facing bloggers in terms of monetization and commodification, what can be done to curtail the practices of certain bloggers and prevent the further spread of corruption?

For some, it’s a matter of creating a code of ethics for bloggers and policing themselves. 

Establishing a code of ethics however raises another question: Are bloggers journalists?

“People need to remember bloggers are not journalists but the line between the two is very very very thin and disappearing!!!” wrote Abiel Abuy.

Eyriche Cortez (@pastor_ey) on the other hand said that there should be no delineation between media and bloggers any more. 

Social sharing

Jason Cruz, suggested a unique way of responding to the issue of commercialization — instead of depending on traffic to determine the rates of advertisements paid to a certain blog, Cruz suggested a system based on “social sharing.”

Under the username jsncruz, Cruz wrote:

“Brands and companies need to know that traffic isn’t and shouldn’t be the main consideration when getting bloggers as promoters and influencers. It’s social sharing. Mediocre bloggers are mediocre because brands and companies helped them be that way. There are often very little writing and skill involved with numerous ‘high traffic blogs’ – which by the way dictate market costs and prices. Is this fair? Hardly.”

Cruz said high traffic does not necessarily mean that a website is credible or “that it can say anything it wants.”

“What we need is an honest, impartial system of setting market prices for blogs, not based on traffic or the author’s name, but on social sharing and impact. This will create better, more credible, and more responsible bloggers and blogging.”

Although noting once again that bloggers are diverse in character, Bernales agreed that bloggers could be amenable to a system that is built not just on marketing but also credibility. 

Part of his comment read: “Yes, it is not anymore about making money, it is about being ahead of a race of thousands and millions of bloggers. Monetizing blogs can come later if a blogger brings in a great user-experience on his blog. But, it is also relevant to note that CONTENT is not enough. Marketing his blog and himself as a blogger is now part of the scene. Thus, building credibility and maintaining the status quo being built by the blogger is as important as building the reputation of the blog.”  – Rappler.com


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