Jack of all trades

“Let me show you the reach. Let me show you the power of online.”

That was how Maria Ressa, Rappler Chief Executive Officer and Executive Editor, put it as she explained the potentials of social media in innovating information dissemination. Truly, the “media are converging, reshaping news gathering processes, redefining the role of national news, and adapting reflexively to various forms around the world.”

According to Marshall McLuhan, the medium is the message. He said that the medium actually changes what message we would get. But then, in this generation, it seems to go beyond that.

University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) was very fortunate to have the Rappler team in a Move Chat Series with the theme, “Social Media for Social Change: Pushing Development Forward.” Maria Ressa talked about Social Media for Social Change. Dr. Serlie Barroga-Jamias, director of UPLB Office of Public Relations, talked about their experiences and learnings during the making of LB Times, a community newspaper produced by the DEVC123 class as their final output. Rappler Citizen Journalism Director Chay Hoflleña also shared some tips on how to penetrate the mainstream media. Topics about using social media in pushing development issues were discussed by Rappler Special Projects Director Michael Josh Villanueva. And lastly, Patricia Evangelista, Rappler Multimedia Reporter, shared her insights on why she tells stories. This event was housed on SEARCA Auditorium, last September 19. Students, majority are communication majors, from different universities, and some faculty members were present in the said chat series.

“It changes the way we communicate.”

Social media has becoming a fad nowadays, especially to the Filipinos, being the top user of social networking sites. I was fascinated on how Ms. Ressa presented the facts about social media. She used twitter maps as her take off in giving the context to the audience. With twitter maps, audience were able to see the bigger picture, “God’s eye view,” as what Ms. Ressa call it. With those twitter maps, she compared the behaviors of people twitting in countries such as Japan, United States, Egypt, Syria. This implies that through social media, it is now possible to have a lot of reach.

“The medium is evolving us. It’s changing the way our brains work. “

Ms. Ressa explained also the science behind the addiction to social media, and the reason why it actually dethroned pornography from being the number one activity in the web. The secrets are dopamine and oxytocin. Dopamine, known as the enzyme released by our body whenever we have a small jolt of attraction, or by any chance, we are addicted to something. And once you have experienced it, your body seems to beg for more, popularly known as the dopamine fix. Oxytocin, on one hand, is known as the love hormone, literally hormones released during intimate situations like kissing, hugging for a long time, or having sex. As applied to social media, whenever we post a status message, or a picture, or whatever we share to the social media community, when it was “liked,” “shared,” “retweeted,” “favorited,” and other activities that you could do, then there is actually a release in both dopamine and oxytocin It literally “rewiring our brains” by continually “interrupting” our communication cycle, or model, or whatever you want to call a conversation. That was the reason that kept us in front of our laptops, browsing on our fb profile page, or blog sites, for that matter.

Of course, this new technology has its ups and downs. With the Rappler, they took into considerations the negatives and largely embraced its benefits. With dopamine fix, people would now appear more distracted, and not able to do multi-tasking. But, on the contrary, social media actually make people “more engaged,” “more social,” and “act together without spending much.”

“Stop thinking with your head, feel with your heart.”

And since it involves dopamine and oxytocin, Rappler takes advantage of it by using it as their motivating power to be viewed. Emotions, for most of the time, and not the brain, are usually used in our decision making. That’s why Rappler believed that emotions play a crucial role in information dissemination—what page you want to view or want to like depends on the emotions that you feel towards the message. Rappler actually do “crowd sourcing,” that is, in every article, or any entry in the website, there is a mood meter that literally measures someone’s mood toward the article, or a video, perhaps.

Aside from the role of social media, Ms. Hoflleña discussed about strategies in selling your story to the mainstream. What struck me the most is that she emphasized the need of a story to have a human interest angle. Just like what she has said, “Without heart, without feeling, there is no story.”

Mr. Villanueva talked about the ways in maximizing the power of social media. Through social media, one can actually “mobilize” people, “build” networks, make these people “engage,” and sooner, make them “act” about a certain issue.

With the demands of today’s changing world, it is undoubtedly that media is going along its current. As future DevCom practitioners, I think it is a must for us to know the potentials of this media, and use those for addressing development issues. Journalism, in a sense, is no longer caged in print. But rather, they now come in different forms. Just like what Prof. Jamias in one of her talk last year, she said that this is actually the “new face of journalism—jack of all trades, master of all.” I believe that we already have a paradigm transfer, a shifting of ages, as what Ms. Ressa said, “from the age of authority to the age of authenticity.” Convergent journalism is the trend today. Information came not just from professional journalists, but rather, it is the collaboration of other “sources” of truth, like the rich media, and the wisdom of the crowds.

With knowledge is power. That is why, it really is crucial to living. With this technology at hand, we could maximize the information dissemination potential, making it accessible to everyone, and eventually, driving them to a productive action for betterment.

“If every single dot in this map is a person like me and you, it is really, really easy to imagine how things like this can happen.”—Maria Ressa

This is the power of social media; changing the world- one ripple at a time.

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