Journalist calls for public awareness against fraudulent news organizations PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 May 2011 13:15

MANILA — Former Zamboanga Today Editor-in-Chief Frencie Carreon on World Press Freedom Day called on media colleagues and the Zamboanga community to be wary of organizations claiming to be news media outfits.

Carreon, who is presently in an academic pursuit for higher education on peace journalism in Australia while practicing freelance peace journalism, expressed “aghast and dismay” over the false representation of Zimnet, a web developer based in Zamboanga City, at a training conference organized by the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ) for journalists in SouthEast Asia.  Zimnet has sent a so-called reporter to Jakarta, Indonesia for reporting on the Association of SouthEast Asian Nations  (ASEAN).

“I am an alumna of the IIJ, and have undergone this training myself. I would welcome other journalists to enjoy this learning opportunity, and it would be much better if this were awarded to someone who is a legitimate journalist, and one who could truly apply the learning by writing issues affecting the ASEAN, whether directly or indirectly,” Carreon said.

“It’s very own website states that it is focused on technology and e-media. Just because the word ‘media’ appears there does not mean there is reference to the quadri-media, meaning, print journalism, radio and TV journalism, and online news journalism,” she added.

Zimnet’s website states, “ZimNet, founded in 2001, is a successful Internet access and networking design firm. We ambitiously set out to help people and businesses obtain their Internet goals quickly and efficiently with courteous service. The technical expertise and customer service philosophy of ZimNet makes it a welcome entity wherever the requirement for excellence is needed. ZimNet!! A name associated with service-oriented internet technology with great promise and greater technical service horizon for the future.”

“There is no question about its legitimacy as an organization doing web developing business. It is legitimate. What makes it questionable is its claim as a news organization. It does not matter if the staff are not members of the Zamboanga Press Club or any press membership organization, because their membership or non-membership does not validate the legitimacy of their claim as a news organization. These are two different things,” Carreon said.

“This misrepresentation even confuses people who do not understand which Zambo Today Online or which Zambo Times Online is legitimate.  Zimnet claims ownership to the website, but I believe Zamboanga Today and Daily Zamboanga Times have rights to the legitimate use of the name. There exists an infringement of rights on both sides, perhaps, and even if I share my opinion, this is for the courts to decide. But until there is legal action from either side, and the support of the business community as well as the support of those organizations acting as sources of news continue, then this fraudulent claim as a news organization shall go on,” she said.

“Even if you read through their statement of commitment in their website, you do not find anything on its commitment to deliver factual, unbiased, responsibly written reports. Most of those posted are  media releases, which are fine, and other posts are even copied and paste from other websites. But this is not what journalism is all about. Just look at the services that they have posted on their website. Nothing indicates its being a news media at all,” a disappointed Carreon said.

Zimnet has posted in its website its commitment, which goes:  “In today’s world, a company’s website is critical to its ability to compete and succeed.  At ZimNet, we know our critical role. Our top priority is to provide high - quality, reliable services as well as top customer service.”  Its services, according to its website, are photo and video coverage, events managment, graphics design, web hosting and design.

Carreon has been with Zamboanga Today from 2001 to 2008, as Associate Editor, Business Editor, Feature Editor, before finally becoming its Editor-in-Chief for two years, where she was also a member of its Board of Publishers then.  She was awarded with a scholarship by the University of Sydney in 2008, and  accepted the Australian Leadership Award in 2009, with a 4-year research grant that would earn her the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Peace and Conflict Studies) in Peace Journalism.

“I have notified the IIJ of this misrepresentation. I am taking the lead in calling my fellow alumni of the IIJ from the Philippines, and sought support with PECOJON—the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network Philippines, of which I am a member.  Legitimate Zamboanga journalists need training opportunities so we can have a better Mindanao media.  These opportunities must not be seen as a financial investment, but as an educational investment that can be multiplied by sharing and applying one’s learning. All journalists must remember that first and foremost, our profession is one of public service, and not of profit-gaining,” Carreon concluded. — MF