HARRY ROQUEPresidential spokesperson Harry Roque challenged traditional media to show that everyone who wants to be a journalist must adhere to the basic tenets of journalism, including truth and fairness. In a speech delivered last November 16 during the 43rd Top Level Management Conference of the KBP, Roque said that journalism faces a challenge today because it is no longer confined to newspapers, radio, and TV.

According to Roque, many social bloggers, some with 5 million followers, have qualified to become journalists by the definition of the U.N. Human Rights Council because they impart information multiple times in a day. The challenge, Roque said, is how to “explain (to social media bloggers) the tremendous responsibility attached to those who impart information to the public on a regular basis.”

Roque said that the internet is the “biggest and the greatest gift that we could have in promoting freedom of expression. When we talk of free marketplace of ideas, it is the internet that has provided the physical realization of this free marketplace of ideas.” However, he said, “the internet also comes with challenges that society will have to resolve.”

Roque also said: “We also need to listen to what bloggers are saying. Although people get information primarily from radio and TV, they are spending more time in the internet than watching TV or listening to radio.” Roque said that there is a recognition in Malacañang that bloggers must undergo specialized training on fact checking.

In his speech, Roque also defended his statement about traditional media for which he was criticized by social bloggers: Roque said, “the reality is, without the (traditional) media doing its job, the people wouldn’t have known the shortcomings of the past administration….The fact that (people) knew (these) because of media– and because of social media–is testament that with freedom of expression comes greater responsibility for government, because individuals, when they have formed a political opinion, will be powerful to fiscalize governance.”