We asked a former Malacanang Press Corps president for her take on this.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles made a bold suggestion. She said that a blogger (or vlogger) should be able to join the Malacañang Press Corps like a veteran journalist. Many were alarmed by this suggestion. The National Union of Journalists (NUJP), for one, expressed concerns about it.
With this, FreebieMNL asked a professional for her take on the issue. Meet Manila Standard editor Joyce Babe Pañares. She is a former Malacañang Press Corps president. She also taught journalism at De La Salle University and Kalayaan College. (Ed’s note: Two members of our team used to be her students.)
A veteran journalist speaks
The White House has given access to bloggers and vloggers. But Pañares says those who received access “have been blogging about news for quite some time.” In other words, they’re not just any kind of bloggers or vloggers. Most of them are retired journalists. Ergo, there’s discipline in what they do. They also have a track record of not peddling fake news. That makes them credible sources of information.
“This is not the first attempt,” is what Pañares said when asked for her thoughts on accreditation. She reveals that two previous administrations almost gave bloggers and vloggers access.
“There were attempts during Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.’s and Martin Andanar’s times. Now Trixie Cruz-Angeles is pushing for it,” Pañares says.
She adds that it was almost a go when Martin Andanar was Press Secretary. The PCOO had gone so far as to issue guidelines for accreditation back then. But there was a catch. Whoever got it needed to write good things about the Duterte administration. That’s why the move to give bloggers and vloggers access fell through.
The need for guidelines
Pañares says it’s easy to allow bloggers and vloggers to enter the Palace. But she emphasizes the need for ground rules. “Pwede, but to what extent? The devil is in the details. It’s actually easy to give accreditation, but what are the guidelines? Kailangan meron,” she asks.
During her time with the Malacañang Press Corps, things were very different. There was a strict filtering process for those covering events involving the President. For instance, broadcast journalists needed to get accreditation from the KBP first. Only after securing that could they try to get access to the Palace.
Back then, Pañares says correspondents should have at least three years of experience. “Fly-by-night” journalists and publications are a no-no. The Malacañang Press Corps also prefers those who are serious about covering events. They turn down those who appear only during the season of giving or are out to spread propaganda.
The Presidential Security Group also has a say in who gets access, Pañares adds. This is to ensure the President’s safety. All accredited journalists must provide their personal information for security purposes.
The difference between a citizen journalist and a veteran
Pañares encourages citizen journalism. It’s a type of journalism by non-professionals who disseminate information on social media. But she maintains that those who practice it are different from professional journalists.
Right now, she wants to wait for the PCOO’s guidelines before making further comments.
“Sa ngayon anything is possible. But with guidelines, there’s a basis to say if the proposed action is right or wrong.”
Featured Image Daniella Sison