A NUMBER of friends recently asked me how they could identify legitimate media practitioners from poseurs (a.k.a. Hao Hsiao in the media industry) and internet bloggers as there seem to be a proliferation of the last two.

There is a seeming similarity in what a legitimate media practitioner and a blogger do. Although both are engaged in information dissemination yet the philosophies that animate them are totally different. On the other hand, Hao Hsiaos only pose as media practitioners for selfish ends aside from the fact that they are totally bereft and ignorant of journalism ethics and principles.

A journalist is someone who, for a certain number of years, had undergone numerous journalistic rigors like doing the actual news coverage, writing the news reports and placed such reports under the pen of competent editors for editing.  A journalist does not treat his work as his own unlike a feature writer or a blogger who prices his work as unassailable or sacred masterpiece. What is dear to a journalist is the accuracy and timeliness of details. A work of the journalist, which is necessarily concise, is always open to editing and critique.
The talent to write and a journalism degree does not make one a journalist (but it helps if you have both). It is the experience of news gathering and production, forged through the years in the beats and in some rare cases the recognition given by fellow journalist, that makes one a legitimate media practitioner.

But a blogger, on the other hand, is generally not burdened by the rules of journalism on fairness and accuracy although he could choose to be so. A blogger writes for a certain cause, a propagandist of sort. He is not usually hampered by editors, deadlines and definitely not limited by a particular beat coverage.

Hao Hsiaos, meanwhile, aside from being bereft of any talent related to news writing or broadcasting, usually can be identified by the huge press identification cards that hang on their necks. They also wore vest and sometimes carry cameras.

These impersonators won’t hesitate to blackmail or extort money from hapless victims. I still vividly remember several Hao Hsiaos I met when I was covering the Quezon City Hall beat. They are really pathetic and give an impression that journalists are pen wielding crooks.

Nevertheless, I submit that media practitioners who succumb and go over the profession’s dark side are more dangerous ten times over than these Hao Hsiaos for they really have the power to make or unmake a person’s career. These are the persons you should be on the lookout for. They are like foxes in sheep’s clothing.

* * *
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