From the impeachment process to Miss Universe: Why we love to explain things

Jodesz Gavilan
From the impeachment process to Miss Universe: Why we love to explain things
The internet has its good and bad moments. Rappler tries to contribute more to its good side by bringing credible and factual information to our readers through IQs and explainers.

The news cycle in the Philippines is so fast that sometimes, a lot of concepts and personalities are left unexplained. With the advent of technology, though, readers can seek the information they want to access, mainly through Google.

The problem with this method is that the information is scattered and unfiltered. At Rappler, we have been striving to fill in this gap through our #RapplerIQ section.

We see the importance of collating and explaining a personality, event, process, or issue, and presenting the information in one article.  This information is often only mentioned in a paragraph or two in other stories and are often missed in a sea of quotable quotes from politicians.

The availability of this information, no doubt, can help people understand topics that seem alien to them. #RapplerIQ pieces try to provide details to readers that may help in their decision-making, or give them a different perspective.

For some, our stories may look like Wikipedia articles. But what makes #RapplerIQ different is that the articles are based on credible and thorough research subject to meticulous fact-checking. 

Of course, the way we research and write IQ pieces are still guided by the highest standard of journalism implemented in our newsroom. 

In short, Rappler IQ are based on facts and facts alone. There are no alternative facts here, regardless of what some may say.

Making it ‘fun’

We acknowledge that sometimes, even if they are very important, facts on their own are very technical and “boring.”  

We often ask ourselves, how do we make explaining facts exciting? How can we make sure that people will actually read our stories?

Rappler researchers strive to explain issues, personalities, and concepts in a manner that is easily understood. Personally, when I am writing an explainer, I try to imagine that I am explaining something to my younger siblings or sometimes, my younger self.  

We try our best to laymanize our #RapplerIQ pieces and do away with jargon that often take the fun out of learning a new concept. Super technical terms in a story on a boring topic may send our readers to dreamland.

For example, the Philippine taxation system is as important as it is very complicated. In 2017, the World Bank reported that it takes about 185.6 hours to file taxes 28 times each year.

So it’s no surprise that every April, the annual deadline of filing of tax returns, Filipinos are often left working on their ITRs until the last minute. 

To make the process easier to understand, we released a story focused on what people should know and remember when it comes to paying taxes. It was also perfect timing as a tax reform package is currently in the works. (FAST FACTS: Time to pay taxes, what should you know?) 

Answering questions

The Rappler IQ section also aims to answer questions that comes with major controversies in the country. We look at the issue from a bigger picture and try to provide another perspective.

Through this, Rappler IQ hopes to let the facts rise above the noise surrounding issues.

An example is when we tried to answer if Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales can be disbarred after former Manila councilor Greco Belgica filed the case before the Supreme Court.  

In our explainer, we cited provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Supreme Court decisions, and also featured an interview with a lawyer. 

A week after we ran our story, the SC junked the disbarment case. It also cited past decisions that have repeatedly affirmed the Ombudsman’s immunity from a disbarment complaint while the Ombudsman is holding office. 

Another explainer was on the impeachment process, what happens if a vice president is impeached, and the role of the International Criminal Court.  

We have done fast-fact articles on new SC justices, human rights lawyers, terrorists, businessmen, and members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s family, among others.

Our Rappler IQ pieces do not only focus on politics. We tried to trace the roots of the Philippine terno, uncovered the history of the country’s involvement in the Miss Universe, looked back at how Filipinos celebrated Christmas during the Spanish colonization, and highlighted the role of dogs in therapy. 

One may doubt if our topics are really news-worthy. But check the header of Rappler IQ’s landing page and you’ll see what guide us in our pursuit to explain these things: “Facts, figures, information on almost anything of interest. IQ stands for ‘intelligence quotient’ but it could also mean interesting, incredible, intelligent, even inane.” 

The internet has its good and bad moments. We try to contribute more to its good side by bringing credible and factual information to our readers. 

What the readers can do with their new knowledge, however, is up to them. But it is definitely limitless. – Rappler.com

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.