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MANILA, Philippines – How do you cultivate human relationships without physical contact or face-to-face interaction?
This was the big question in my head as I looked at a long list of names of people from across the country who I was tasked to connect with online and, from there, eventually build a network of committed citizen journalists.
It is a crucial undertaking, where we involve civil society in the duties of the Fourth Estate.
Citizen journalism has made waves in the media landscape of recent years — from reporting on road and bridge projects in the United States to investigating health care reform.
The upcoming Philippine midterm polls makes it all the more critical, as election-monitoring should be a shared burden by all.
It so happens and to our benefit, popular psychology is right: common goals bind people together.
I was spared with the hard sell. It was easy to have people on board, because there was a clear vision ahead of us.
We want the right information traveling to as many people as possible, such that they are able to discern the truth on their own. We want the election results to truly reflect Juan dela Cruz’s voice, but we also want that voice to emanate from sound judgment based on an awareness of facts and events.
In all these, we want to be loyal to public interest – our shared interest – and come out of the entire process with our principles intact.
These are lofty goals. We need as much help from everyone to fill in the gaps, to be our eyes and ears on the ground.
Beyond the ballot: Citizens’ role during elections
Ideally, the citizens’ role during the election season must not be limited to entering polling precincts and shading circles beside the names of their candidates of choice.
The level of civic engagement – actions you do that influence political outcomes – is measured not just by the act of voting but also by involvement in making sure the electoral process is untarnished.
Various election watchdogs already offer ways to report electoral violence and acts of intimidation through their websites. Images of early campaign paraphernalia can be tweeted (don’t forget to mention @MovePH and @rapplerdotcom) or blogged about, and the candidate shamed no end if the tweet or blog goes viral.
Our ability to shape the political narrative, one that must be done responsibly, is heightened by the Internet and social media.
The weight that we place on certain issues—employment, infrastructure, education, health, minority rights, etc.—can influence the weight that our candidates would place on these issues as they build a campaign that is focused on them. Our demand for substance over spectacle is one that cannot be ignored once it reaches a boiling point.
Our duty, of course, extends post-elections when we make our elected officials accountable for what they have promised in their campaigns.
This way, we maximize the impact of the circles we shade this 2013 elections.
Be a Rappler mover
MovePH, Rappler’s citizen journalism arm, has been honored to have with us on board nationalistic and enthusiastic souls – students, academics, bloggers, doctors, leaders of non-government organizations, young professionals – from across the country.
James Annjo Salomon wrote about his coverage of the UNA proclamation rally in Cebu City. Giano Libot helped pool in reports for the mock polls in Cagayan De Oro. Therene Quijano reported on the Team PNoy sortie in Dumaguete City.
This, of course, was on top of and largely a result of what Rappler is doing in different parts of the country. MovePH organizes the Move Chat Series to spread a culture of responsible social media use and conducts focused group discussions to learn about local issues that remain unknown to a larger majority of Filipinos.
Rappler’s mobilization strategy isn’t one-dimensional and goes beyond content-curation. It includes equipping and guiding Movers to be ready for a potential journalistic coverage. It also makes sure you have direct access to us through official Rappler and MovePH social media accounts.
Help us tell stories. Document history as it is being made. Be a Rappler mover. – Rappler.com
If you want to volunteer as a Rappler mover or simply want to know more, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org