Manuel L. Quezon III
Transcript of presentation given in February, 2008 given at KAS workshop.
It used to be that you get your paper in the morning to find out what people are saying and how media is treating it; or watch TV in the evening to get your news about the day.
But today, you get your news online not just in the morning or evening. An online newspaper is constantly uploading. The headline in Inquirer.net, for instance, changes every hour. People are now thirsty for news all the time, and get easily bored. An hour-old news is dead news. You step back twenty years ago, everyone would get the newspaper and find out what happened and position themselves.
Now, what has been said 30 minutes ago gets updated in less than an hour. Even news broadcasters or announcers have changed their way of delivering the new. They used to deliver with a poker face and good diction you have the likes of Harry Gasser. Now, you want it a little more intimate. Even CNN anchors have changed their style and started pretending they are not robots. I myself started out in a newspaper column – finely crafted and came out only twice a week, but people would not remember anymore what I said two days ago. This is where blogging comes in. This was what brought me to blogging – the immediacy that the people crave.
Media cycle is constant, and the intent and message should come out in a timely fashion. But one shocking data is that number one read column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer is “Dollywood,” although the number one columnist is Conrado de Quiros. Ten people will read “Dollywood” to De Quiros’ two or three.
Today, the concern is to have a niche market and not anymore the broad audience because of the way online things are, where you can immediately know the updates.
Online, you are dealing with people pretty obsessed with what’s going on. If you deliver your message in a timely fashion you can attract them even if they don’t remember most of the things you’ve written. They start coming back if you are consistently writing and providing information. It’s almost like building a group of cadres – a small circle whose members have their own interests, more likely interested in politics, are sophisticated, and are literate. You don’t really aim for Juan de la Cruz but the guy who has to get a report for the chairman of the board, or a mid-level manager whose boss belongs to Manila Business Club who has 30 minutes to spare.
A blogger queues into what interests him, writes or blogs about, and channels his or her influence in homes that have access to his or her blog.
A blog is nothing more than a website arranged according to a date, like a diary, in contrast to, for example, BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) website that does not change.
What I have is a political blog, which is often composed of many things, not only texts, because pictures count for a lot. For example, I went to the President’s website and got two photos of exactly the same event taken exactly at the same moment, but with different captions. And these photos and their captions say a lot about the state of things. Why would the same event be described differently?
A blog reflects an opinionated viewpoint. It reflects the blogger’s personality. Then there is what you write. Some are one line entries and very effective, or very brief bits of gossip. Others are very lengthy, as I tend to be.
It helps when you have links. I use a lot of links in my blog. The importance of links is when you are engaged in battle for credibility. Links are in a sense footnoting, so that you don’t need to write a very long explanation but you have proof. A link goes to your original source of information.
What people do today is pretend they are very busy and what they want is for you to chew for them. As a blogger, you want them to know that this is what others are saying, or what others are blogging about. In blogging, you open yourself to responses, including criticisms or negative remarks. What separates old media and old politics is that in the latter, after delivering your speech and walking out of the venue, you get heckled. Today, you have to open yourself up to crude, crazy attacks or the most pointless debates in your blog. This is a kind of political engagement most people are not used to. This is uncontrollable, unpredictable, and sometimes, a waste of time and resources.
I have no pretenses that I am an objective reporter. But the challenge is to become a trustworthy source.
There are times that you don’t need long entries; you are running around and still want to engage your readers. For this purpose, I use Twitter, some sort of blog with 120 characters or less.
For example, I want to blog on what’s happening in the rally. I could be on Ayala Avenue and send twitters on what’s happening.
Through my twittering from the Senate during Lozada’s testimony, it enabled me to talk about what’s happening.
How does this apply to you?
You can create your blogs, involving different media – texts, links, quotes, and photographs.
Media focus on an event in a particular way, but as bloggers, you can present the event in your way. By doing so, you can either bypass or complement the media.
There was this Filipino guy, who called himself Disney Cute, who was the first to have photos of the Ayala explosion, 30 minutes after the incident; the AFP and everyone else wanted to buy his photos.
How do you find out if any of these efforts is worth it? Technocrati is a great site because it immediately picks up what people are using and you would know who belongs to your network of readers, and what their interests are.
I know many people who belong to organizations, and they constantly search if everyone is talking bout them
I find out if my blog is being read through people who are mentioning me and whose blogs have links to me. But there are also days when no one gives a damn with what I say. My readership is driven by events because I am a political blogger.
To find out if you are being read, you can use Blogsearch.google.com. You can search for the name of your organization or even the name of your enemy, and what most people have read.
When in a conference or seminar, you can immediately find out if your speaker has a blog and know what he has to say about issues being discussed. From your network, text schmoozing, you can find out what people you know have to say. For example, ABC Malacanang reporters are allowed to keep a blog, and I go to one of its reporters’ blog. There is tremendous amount of inside information that has been validated over time.
You can get your message out in as many formats and avenues as possible, because you don’t know what will strike gold. You have to cover all bases, which could lead you to potential allies.
A blog is popular because of its intimate nature. You cannot attract any other way. But it is also very good for intelligence gathering.
The main thing with political blogs is that the engagement can only get bigger. A political blog is not dying like the traditional. It is not micro and does not require you to bribe. Blogs give citizens a fighting chance vis-a-vis bigger media groups, as well as in gaining audience and support from donors.
Konrad Adenauer Foundation