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Bring on the blogs! Mass-Comm Pro Jesse Matubis talks on state of journalism

By Louinn Lota

GLENDALE, Calif. – Citizen journalists and the growing blogosphere don’t bother mass communications expert Jesus “Jesse” Matubis Jr., who spoke to members of the Filipino American Press Club of Los Angeles on the state of news reporting and distribution.

“I’m not so worried about someone industrious enough to gather and disseminate news or opinion on a blog,” Matubis said Sunday, Jan. 23. “Quality is another thing, however.”

Matubis, who worked for NBN Channel 4 in the Philippines and as a campaign manager during Fidel Ramos’ presidential run in 1992, told FAPCLA members that the blogosphere in the Philippines isn’t as extensive as in the United States, but it’s growing.

And so is the irresponsibility.

“They don’t care about ethics,” Matubis said. “Their only intention is to draw attention to themselves and items that are inaccurate and libelous, but unfortunately draw readers. No one can be prevented from putting out information, but you have the choice to throw it out.”

When asked whether online news distribution poses a problem to Philippine daily newspapers, Matubis wasn’t worried either, noting that of the 95 million Filipinos only about 5 million have Internet at home and they don’t have smart phones that have Web access.

“They’re safe for now,” Matubis said. “Internet isn’t as accessible, so the Philippines doesn’t have purely Internet-based news like Politico.com or the Huffington Post.”

What Matubis lamented is the Philippines’ falling pace in the economic boom fostered by the high-tech industry. He said that according to a recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) report, the Philippines lags behind Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia in the lucrative manufacturing and research and development businesses brought by tech-savvy leaders.

“I was saddened that even though the Philippines is the third-largest English-speaking country behind the U.S. and the U.K., we’re stuck on just having call centers in our country,” he said.

Matubis points to the lack of emphasis on science, math and computer programming in Philippine schools.

FAPCLA members had gathered at the Sedthee Thai eatery in Glendale to celebrate the birthday of longtime FAPCLA executive and past president Dante Ochoa. However, from the candles on his Porto’s birthday cake, none of us could tell if Ochoa was 36 or 93.

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