By Florence Jose and Hajilyn Javier
All journalists are citizens of the country, but not all the citizens can be journalists.
Citizen Journalism has broken the barriers between the willingness to contribute in nation building and the responsibility to deliver truthful and accurate information. As the 2013 Elections is fast approaching, with the kind of technology in this day and age, every person should be equipped with a pen and a voice to raise opinion and awareness, especially the youth.
The Voice of the Youth
The youth has been very active in expressing their views and opinions may it be through online or militant activism. Also, student leaders, young athletes, out of school youth and other parts of the youth sector have some say on how citizen journalism among the Filipino youth today can be of great help in the upcoming May 2013 elections.
According to Julliano Fernando Guiang, University of the Philippines Diliman University Student Council Councilor who pioneered the Tatak Botante, a voters’ registration and education campaign, the youth have the widest access to social media because they have the gadgets and the social networking accounts that can be used in information dissemination.
“Malinaw na epektibong citizen journalists ang kabataan dahil tayo ang may pinakamalawak na access sa social media at marami sa atin ay mayroong mga gadgets na maaring magamit para makapaghayag ng tungkol sa ibat ibang mga bagay. Napakadali na rin sa atin na maghayag ng ating opinion, mapa-blog, note o tweet man.” Guiang said.
Similarly, Jose Miguel Solis, also a councilor from UP Diliman said that the Filipino youth are key players in citizen journalism. “The youth are not only the most active in the realm of social media but also are, for me, at the peak of their life where idealism is most cultivated..” Solis said.
Social Media and Citizen Journalism
As Citizen Journalist and reporter from ABS CBN News Atom Araullo puts it,”For the youth, social media is your domain. Maximize it.”
Also, Ma. Carmela Tunay, a Communication Arts Students in University of Santo Tomas and a member of the UST Women’s Volleyball Team believes that the curiosity of the youth is a factor in being more interested in sharing and acquiring information regarding social issues.
“I believe na ang youth ay very effective citizen journalists since it is in our stage that we become very curious regarding what’s happening around us. Eto yung stage from where people most especially mga kabataan nga, ay very eager to dig deep, criticize, and really think of ways kung paano maipapalaganap ang awareness regarding these issues na sa paniniwala ko ay balak din solusyunan ng youth.” Tunay said.
“As a student, siguro we must be more watchful with how we criticize yung mga issue na uungkatin natin since maraming tao na pwedeng maapektuhan ng ating mga pahayag at meron din tayong pwedeng matapakang mga tao at o kayay karapatan kung hindi natin pag-iingatan ang ating mga paraan ng pag-eexpress,” she added.
According to Ging Reyes, ABS CBN News and Current Affairs head, “Effective elections include citizen involvement” and through social media, more and more citizens become concerned and aware.
On the one hand, citizen journalism is “collaborative, thrives on feedback and dependent on crowd wisdom,” Araullo said.
But as a word of caution, GMA News reporter and active citizen journalist, Maviel Gonzales reiterated that the youth must be vigilant in using the social media in reporting and relaying news.
“Anyone can be a citizen journalist but he has to be responsible,” Gonzales said. “The problem with the youth is they tend to get distracted that only a select few are actually concerned with what’s happening to the country.”
Because of the “freedom” that technology, particularly the internet, has provided its users, there are ample reminders and limitations one should remember and follow.
“But as citizen journalists must also follow certain rules and ethics in whatever they conduct and release for public consumption – these are not limitations but necessary guidelines,” Solis said.
“One must observe an objective stance on issues and avoid misleading judgments, because the practice of journalism must be with integrity, justice, and fairness,” he added.
The Youth and The Elections
The youth makes up almost half of the entire Filipino population, granting them power and say in matters concerning the country. And the state recognizes the power they posses, especially this coming elections.
“For me, the youth is very efficient and essential in the society and that they may bring one of the best and effective services if they partake sa darating na election. Yung tendency ng kabataan na maging masinop at mapanuri sa kapaligiran is a huge factor para maipahayag nila ang dapat malaman ng sambayanan. Ang mga impormasyong di naipapahayag at tinatago sa lipunan. All these factors make the youth such an important element of truth and democracy in the society,” Tunay said.
For Commission on Elections Spokesperson James Jimenez, voter education, especially to first time voters, is crucial so that their sense of nationalism and critical thinking would be developed as early as now.
“Mahalaga na ngayon pa lang magkaroon na kayo ng paki[alam]. If not, it would be difficult for you to be critical voters in 2016,” Jimenez said.
Not only by exercising their right to vote they become responsible citizens of the country, the youth also participates by conducting activities that would help raise awareness and spread knowledge about the elections.
“Bilang bahagi ng USC pinangunahan natin ang tatak botante Campaign upang hubugin ang mga botante na maging matalino, matalas at malaya sa kanilang desisyong lilikhain. Isa itong hakbang upang mas maging malalim ang pagtanaw ng mga botante sa mga nais tumakbo,” Guiang said.
At the end of the day, journalist or not, the youth is an important sector of the country, and they have the power to change things. But, this power has equal responsibilities and duties.
“Wag nilang sayangin yung pagkakataon nila na bumoto, kasi katulad ko na hindi nakapag-register, mahirap yung pakiramdam na wala kang naitulong o nacontribute para sa pagbabago,” said Venus Mahinay, 20, who will not be part of the voting population this elections.
As early as now, the youth is encouraged to participate actively in such matters so that their sense of responsibility and love for nation would be developed.
“The upcoming national and local elections are platforms in which citizen journalism should be most encouraged, especially in the youth who are primary stakeholders not only because of the changes to be brought by aspiring politicians but because the youth’s collective effort can transcend to different age groups and spark the same idealism across generations, other sectors of society and even across cultures.” Solis said
Change is such a big word, but then again, the youth has proven to have made wonders.
“The most important thing you can contribute this election is your vote, and your desire to protect your vote,” Gonzales said.