Rey Joseph (RJ) Nieto, the author behind the Thinking Pinoy blog, has made yet another huge unsubstantiated claim. Nieto claimed that "the Philippines became the first country in history to officially allow bloggers to cover the president". Nieto made the claim just a few days after visiting President Duterte at the Malacanang Palace in the company of several pro-Duterte bloggers and social media personalities (Sass Rogando Sasot, Lorraine Badoy, Trixie Cruz Angeles, Krizette Laureta Chu, Ethel Pineda, Franco Mabanta, and Mark Lopez). During their visit, Nieto requested that bloggers coming from both pro-Duterte and anti-Duterte camps be allowed to cover Palace events. According to Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella, the President said yes. That's well and good. More coverage leads to better transparency.
However, Thinking Pinoy's claim that the Philippines is the first country in the world to allow such an agreement is purely unsubstantiated. Is the Philippines really the first country in history to officially allow bloggers to cover the president? Because that is quite an enormous claim. When Thinking Pinoy shared this claim on his Facebook page, it got shared nearly three-thousand (3,000) times. A website called The Volatilian even published a piece repeating that "Philippine bloggers have just made history". The article then went on to lambast mainstream media which was humorously very ironic. The article criticized mainstream for misinformation when the very first sentence in the article is a huge piece of "misinformation".
Let's go back to Thinking Pinoy's misleading claim. Just a quick Google search will tell you that bloggers in other countries have been allowed to cover Palace events. Way back in 2005, Garrett M. Graff, a blogger, was officially granted the pass to cover the White House. This happened in 2005. In short, an American blogger accomplished the feat a decade earlier than Thinking Pinoy and company.
Here's a quote from the article:
"Graff, 23, may be the first blogger in the short history of the medium to be granted a daily White House pass for the specific purpose of writing a blog, or Web log. A White House spokesman said Sunday that he believed Graff was the first blogger to be given credentials. He is being given a press pass as the editor of FishbowlDC, a blog that is published by Mediabistro.com, which offers networking and services for journalists."
In short, Thinking Pinoy is very wrong with his claim. Black bloggers have also been allowed to visit the White House more than seven years ago. And just this January, the White House's press secretary has proposed a bigger venue to press briefings in order to accommodate bloggers and talk radio hosts. These are just facts for the United States alone.
There are 196 countries in the world. Does RJ Nieto of Thinking Pinoy really believe that none of these countries officially allow bloggers to cover Palace events? Did Nieto call every government press secretary of every country to verify that they don't allow bloggers to cover Palace events? Did it not ever occur to Thinking Pinoy that maybe, just maybe, there's a blogger in Venezuela, or Australia, or Spain, or wherever who is covering Palace events.
Anyone who proclaims himself to be a "thinking Pinoy" should live up to his name and actually think, not spread juvenile claims such as this one. This is up there with the assertion that "Duterte is the best president in the solar system". And use Google, please. As to the Palace's positive stance towards bloggers, it's a welcome development. Good job Duterte and good job to Thinking Pinoy for making the request. Let's give credit to whom credit is due.
|Image source: Thinking Pinoy's Facebook page.|
[Update: February 13] - In a post on Facebook, Sass Rogando Sasot wrote that there are still no guidelines for the Social Media Corps and no one has been accredited yet. Here's her post:
"Sa mga nanggagalaiti wala pa pong guidelines at wala pang na-accredit sa Social Media Corps. Hwag kayong gumawa ng kwento na puro pro-Duterte bloggers lang ang members. Pero certainly bawal ang anonymous blogs na maging member ng Social Media Corps."
In short, nothing is official yet. Malacanang has simply acknowledged that a Social Media Corps is feasible. But the Thinking Pinoy went ahead and proclaimed that on February 9, 2017, bloggers are "officially" allowed to cover the president in the Palace. How can something be official when guidelines are yet to be put in place?