premises and possibilities
The televised Fourth Estate in the RP is a proactive force to reckon with. No matter how much this government tries to assert itself through its own news agencies, its efforts are like pebbles in a pond, dwarfed by the massive boulders like ABS-CBN and GMA who, on a whim, can make or break a government’s success story or turn an innocent mistake into a living PR nightmare. Our press acts as a microphone which can be turned on or off depending on circumstances. We have nothing akin to (and probably will never have) the influential effect of government-sponsored BBC. Thus, ever since people power became the norm rather the exception, administrations have walked lightly, carefully watching its step in order to avoid stepping on the media’s shoes. And rightly so.
The question I ask, however, is that should government remain shackled by precaution? Should the metaphoric microphone remain the gatekeeper of information? YouTube would beg to differ. For one thing, the online tool is reshaping a paradigm in the United States where mere city mayors (not to mention state governors and its own President) can break their own stories without the need of a third-party amplifier.
One might argue that internet penetration in our own country is not as pervasive as the United States. The numbers today, however, show a strong pattern of change. At the very least, they no longer appear to be inconsequential. In October 2009, there was an estimate of over 6M people in the RP who were Facebook users. According to Facebook analytics today, there are now 14.6M people who live in the RP who use the same. If we have 94M in the country, one can infer that at least 15% of our residents are “connected.”
With this in mind, the ultimate issue boils down to the utility of YouTube as an effective tool for government. Considering that the present members of the newly formed cabinet are media-shy, the use of this online medium might prove to be a viable and worthy alternative. Mighty as it is, the Fourth Estate need not be the sole gatekeeper of newsworthy information. Should government finally decide to come out of its shell, it can change the whole ballgame with something as ubiquitous as an online channel. YouTube and Government might just become "Your Government" - a channel that is transparent, effective, and, above all else, free.