By Manuelita Dela Torre Contreras and Crispin C. Maslog*

Journalism is going through crucial changes – changes that may be considered

most fundamental to journalism since the advent of the penny press. Worldwide access to

information, ubiquitous news, real-time reporting, multimedia content, and interactivity

are just some of the manifestations of this change in the journalism landscape (Pavlik,


Pavlik is referring to no less than the rise of online journalism. Since the creation

of the first graphical browser for the World Wide Web in 1993, thousands of newspapers

have made their way to the online realm. In the United States, where online journalism

traces its early development, there were more than 1000 online newspapers as early as

1996. By 1999, the number of these newspapers soared to 4900 (Pavlik, 1999; Sproull,

2000; Hall, 2001).

In Asia, there were 11 reported newspapers on the Web as early as 1995; among

them were China’s The China Daily, Malaysia’s Utusan Malaysia, Indonesia’s Kompas,

and Japan’s Asahi Shimbun (Carlson, 2005). Today, most, if not all, Asian countries can

be considered practicing online journalism. In Southeast Asia, for instance, a computer

check revealed that each country has at least one online newspaper.


* Manuelita Dela Torre Contreras is a master’s degree graduate, and Dr. Maslog

is a former visiting professor of the School of Communication, Nanyang Technological

University, Singapore,

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In the Philippines, online journalism started with the arrival of The Manila Times,

a national daily newspaper, on the Web in 1995, the year after the country acquired a

permanent public Internet connection (ITU, 2002). In the same year, Business World

Online was launched on the Web, making its mark as the first Philippine online business


Various problems beset the early days of Philippine online journalism; among

these were fundamental problems such as limited or lack of infrastructure necessary to

wire the country or to get a basic Internet connection. The Philippines dawdles in

information and communication technology (ICT). In 2004-2005 for instance, it scored

negatively (-0.43) and ranked 67th among 104 countries in the Networked Readiness

Index (NRI), a measure of a country’s readiness to participate in and gain from the

developments of ICT (World Economic Forum, 2005).

This limited ICT directly and indirectly affects the development and use of online

journalism. For one, lack of technology means lack of access to hardware necessary to

access the Internet and the online medium. Likewise, it hinders the people from acquiring

ICT literacy, such as the literacy to use computer applications or the computer hardware

itself. These and other factors are crucial to the tapping and use of online journalism, as

lack of them means lack of or low access to the online medium.

Nonetheless, the online medium is now being utilized in the country for purposes

such as information and communication. Online journalism, for instance, is now being

used for social advocacy. A number of non-government and non-profit groups have

started using online journalism to advocate for their cause by, for example, providing

information on certain issues that are not commonly covered by the mainstream media.

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Also, provincial online news publications help fill the information gap between their

community and their community members living or working abroad or elsewhere in the

country. Likewise, national online news publications have become prime sources of news

and information of Filipinos abroad. They provide a fast and convenient way of getting

news from home. There are approximately eight million Filipinos working abroad (The

Manila Times, 2004). In the first half of 2005 alone, for instance, 502,772 overseas

Filipino workers (OFWs) were deployed to work abroad (, 2005). They work in

various continents and regions of the world, such as Asia, Europe, North and South

Americas, Australia, and Africa (Philippine National Statistics Office, 2003). This

diaspora has created a greater need for news from the Philippines, a need that cannot be

readily fulfilled by the traditional media because of lack of access to them.

Online Journalism: Definition and Concepts

Before zooming in on the case of Philippine online journalism, it is important to

first know and understand the definition and concepts of online journalism. Online

journalism is loosely defined as journalism on the Web, which is considered a news

medium in the sense that it allows the posting of news and information (Stovall 2004).

This definition, however, misses important facets that make this journalism distinct from

traditional journalism. Ward (2002) has identified some points that correct

misconceptions about this medium. He proposes that what basically makes online

journalism different is the fact that it is multifaceted and user-centered. Unlike traditional

journalism, which puts audiences at the receiving end of the mass communication

process, online journalism places users in the forefront of this process.

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In terms of content, online journalism requires that all the elements of the online

medium support the presentation of online content. Although the other components and

features (e.g. interactivity) of this medium are indispensable to its full utilization, content

should remain at the core of online journalism.

Ward further asserts that the basic precepts and processes of journalism should be

linked to all the steps of online news gathering, writing, and reporting. Although online

journalism is considered new and different, the core values and principles of traditional

journalism should remain at its base. Journalistic principles and processes have to be

integrated in all the stages of online news production and delivery.

This paper is based on a study conducted by the authors on the history and

development of online journalism in the Philippines. The study aimed to trace, describe,

and analyze the development of the Philippines’ online journalism, using both content

analysis and interview for its data collection. Document research was also done to trace

the history of this new medium in the country.


Online journalism is relatively new in the Philippines. It was only in 1994 that the

country acquired a permanent public Internet connection, although some businesses

started setting up their own connections in the early 1990s. Approximately 90 percent of

the Internet traffic goes abroad, mostly to the U.S., according to an International

Telecommunication Union (ITU) case study. But local traffic continues to grow as

Internet facilities and services continue to improve (ITU, 2002).

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In September 1995, The Manila Times, a national daily newspaper, went online,

paving the way for other news publications. In its initial and testing phase online, it was

serving only 100 local subscribers before eventually going international (Pabico, 1999).

The following month, Business World Online was launched on the Web, establishing its

niche as the first Philippine business paper to venture online. However, unlike The

Manila Times, which utilized a windows-based application that allowed easy navigation,

it was using DOS, a cumbrous system.

During its early years in the Philippines, online news publishing was not exactly

seen as something very economically viable to displace print newspapers from their

throne. Priority was still given to the print medium; putting up an online edition was one

of those done on the side. Business World Online, for example, was put up with the intent

of attracting online readers to subscribe to the print newspaper. If readers signed up for

subscription, they were given access to the online version for an additional monthly fee

(Pabico, 1999).

The early days of Philippine online journalism were plagued with various

problems and limitations; chief of these was the limited or lack of necessary

infrastructures. For example, the fixed telephone system was ineffectual as there were a

limited number of telephone lines in the National Capital Region (NCR), and much more

so in the provinces. This impeded the early and speedy arrival of newspapers and other

news publications on the Web. It also stymied early access to the online medium by

Filipino users.

Provincial news publications came later to the online scene. Their development

can be traced to the Globicom (Globalization of Island Community Newspapers) project

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initiated in 1999, although some provincial papers (e.g. The Freeman Online, The Bohol

Times Online, Sun.Star Network Online, etc.) were already online before this project was

even conceptualized. Globicom aimed at providing a portal where provincial newspapers

could post their news stories and other articles for online access and consumption. It was

also meant to connect Philippine Press Institute (PPI) members online, to promote

interaction among them, and to raise the country’s community press to a higher level

online. The project was an initiative of the PPI, an organization of Philippine newspapers,

in partnership with Business World Online and funded by United Nations Educational,

Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Globicom came up with templates for community newspapers that participated in

the project and organized seminars for their publishers and editors. A number of

newspapers were able to go online and sustain their presence on the Web even after

Globicom’s termination. However, according to PPI’s former executive director Ermin

Garcia, Jr., the project was barely successful mainly because of lack of funding and

support from Internet service providers. Also, it should be noted that several community

or provincial papers went online without Globicom’s assistance.

One of the crucial points in the history of Philippine online journalism was in

1998. This year saw the rise of news publications going online, as well as of the

perceived profitability of the online medium. By this time, more and more companies

started to see the advertising potentials of this medium, with the 1997 economic crisis

helping boost online advertising as a cheaper alternative to mainstream media advertising

(Datinguinoo, 1999).

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Now, the Philippines has more than 30 known online news publications, although

some had been inactive for a period of time. This figure includes only those that provide

news as their main service, ranging from online versions of print newspapers to online

daily newspapers, online weekly newspapers, online news magazines, and online

newspaper-television joint ventures. Many of them are based in Metro Manila; the others

are in the provinces., a joint venture of a television network and a major

national daily, claims the biggest readership.

The low Internet penetration and access and the unequal distribution of Internet

connection in the country constrain online news publications from reaching more

audiences. However, the online medium continues to bring opportunities for online

publication. The number of online news websites has increased, although some had

closed down. All the major daily newspapers in the country have their online versions.

Some non-profit groups (e.g. have started taking advantage of the online

opportunity to put their causes forward by, for instance, providing news, discussion, and

analysis not commonly found in the mainstream media.

Understandably, Philippine online news publications experience the highest

number of visits, mostly by Filipinos abroad as well as foreign observers, during crucial

events and periods. For example, during the impeachment trial of former president Joseph

Estrada in December 2000, recorded an average of 1.5 million visits

per day, reaching five million during the peak of Estrada’s overthrow from power. On

ordinary days, it gets around 300,000 hits a day (Torres, 2004).

Philippine Online Journalism: Early Promise

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Overall, Philippine online journalism is still in its infancy. Although some

publications went online as early as 1995, most of them can be considered young, while

the others are relatively new. Hence, experimentation, adjustment, and alteration are

evident among them. Some did not go further than the experimentation stage and had

folded, while the others keep up and continue to make some progress. Although this

progress is slow, the country’s online journalism is likely to advance once the

fundamental shortcomings and pressing problems are addressed and resolved.

Online Access

The Internet has low penetration in the Philippines mainly due to lack of

sufficient ICT infrastructure and the high cost of Internet subscription and the necessary

hardware (only 2.7 percent of households having personal computers as of 2000,

according to ITU). The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) reported

1,852,333 Internet subscribers in 2003. In 1999, the Internet penetration was recorded at

0.62 percent, and 2.46 percent or approximately 2.0 million users at the end of 2000

(ITU, 2002). In 2003, there were 3.5 million recorded Internet users in the country, while

in 2004, the number jumped to 11.8 million, both at residential and commercial levels

(ITU, 2004; IDC, 2005).

Most of those with Internet access are in the NCR and those abroad where access

is better and easier. Many Philippine rural areas do not have Internet access because of

lack of fixed telephone line, which is necessary for dial-up connection, the most common

and cheapest form of Internet connection in the country. Fixed telephone lines are

concentrated in the NCR, which has 43 percent of the 6.5 million fixed lines in the

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country (NTC 2003 Status Report, 2004). What makes the situation more difficult is the

fact that some rural, far-flung communities do not have electricity or regular supply of

electricity. According to a National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) data, 2.8

million Filipino families living below the poverty level do not have electricity (The

Manila Times, 2003).

Insufficient and inefficient ICT infrastructure leads to inequality in access and use

of the Internet. This inevitably leads to what is called ‘digital divide’ within the country

between the areas with sufficient infrastructure (notably the NCR) and those without or

with limited infrastructure (mostly far-flung provinces and communities). It can be

deduced here that there is also unequal or uneven growth of ICT literacy between these

geographic areas. These factors consequently contribute to the uneven access to and use

of the online medium.

Kinds of Philippine Online News Publications

Most Philippine news websites are online newspapers, many of them Web

editions of print dailies, weeklies, or semi-weeklies. The others are online news

magazines and television-newspaper joint ventures. These publications come out in

various frequencies, most of them daily. The rest come out less frequently, such as

weekly, semi-weekly, and bi-monthly. The presence of these less frequent publications

does not seem apt on the Web because of the nature of the medium itself. As they are

updated less often, their content seems too old to be considered news.

More than half of the identified publications, both provincial and national, are

published in English. Even those using both local language and English dominantly had

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more articles written in English. Among the few news websites published in local

language, only one is province-based; the rest are all Metro Manila-based.

With several provincial news websites folding up in the last few months and

years, by the time the study was being conducted, there were more Metro Manila-based

than province-based online publications. Their ratio shows a big discrepancy, considering

the number of provinces in the country and their geographic size and coverage compared

to that of Metro Manila. This gap may still widen if small community news websites

continue to close down mainly because of financial constraints.

Table 1.0 Online news publications based on scope of coverage or audience reach

National online news publications

Online newspapers:

Abante Online

Abante Tonite Interactive


Business World Online

Chinese Commercial News

Kabayan News Online


Manila Standard

Pinoy Weekly Online

PJI Journal Group


The Daily Tribune

The Manila Bulletin Online

The Manila Times


Online television-newspaper publications:

Online news magazines:


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Provincial online news publications

Online newspapers:

Bandillo ng Palawan

Daily Zamboanga Times

KAIBA News and Features

Mindanao Times News Online


Sun.Star Network Online

Sunday Punch Online

The Bohol Chronicle

The Bohol Times Online

The Freeman Online

The Ilocos Times Online

The Mindanao Daily Mirror

The Palawan Times

The Visayan Daily Star

Tribune Eastern Visayas Online News

Online news magazine:

Nueva Ecija Journal

(Sources: Philippine Journalism Review,,,


Content-wise, most Philippine online news publications are still stuck in the basic

level of online content development. More than half of the publications use shoveled

content or content that is taken from a traditional medium, mostly newspapers. These

publications are all online versions of print publications, which serve as their sole source

of content. Most of those with print counterparts simply shovel content from their print

edition, adding some refurbishings and features such as links to other articles or sections,

a search engine, and feedback mechanisms for readers. Publications without print

counterparts mostly have limited content; recycling or re-using of old articles is common

among them.

Five of the identified publications run a combination of both original and

shoveled contents. They all have traditional media counterparts (newspaper or television

network), and are regularly updated for breaking news. These publications, however,

vary in their amount or quantity of original content and shoveled content., for

instance, has far more original content than, as it runs original or web-only

sections besides its breaking news. On the other hand, carries only breaking

news for its original content. Five of the news websites run original content because they

are solely web publications.

Two news websites can be considered in an advance stage in terms of content.

They are characterized by their original articles and more interactive and sophisticated

features appended to their content to make reading and navigation easier. Other features

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are also present, such as sending of articles through email, instant sending of comments

on articles, text-only option, and article index., for instance, can be considered

in an advance stage. Although it posts articles from its print counterpart, it runs original

content and features several sections targeted at specific niches of audiences (e.g. Global

Nation for Filipinos abroad, Roadtrip for travelers, YOU for young audiences, etc.).

Besides, it has features, capabilities, and services comparable to those of major

international news content providers.

Sections and Articles

Most of the news websites carry the usual newspaper sections, but the number of

these sections varies between the national-based and the province-based publications.

The national websites have more variety and choices of sections, ranging from news

sections such as breaking, national, Metro, provincial, and other news to more specific

sections such as business, features, and lifestyle. However, the presence or number of

these sections is never uniform among the publications. Even among the major news

websites based in Metro Manila, their number of sections varies; some have more, some

less. The commonly missing sections among the provincial publications include breaking

news, business, international news, lifestyle, and audio-visual.

Stories are more on national and local news. Some national publications carry

international news from wires, but these are limited in number. Some do not normally run

international news, unless there are events of national or international concern. Province-

based publications do not commonly run international news. Readers’ interest is more in

local news. For instance, community members based overseas would prefer to read more

about their community, municipality, or province than about other countries.

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The publications have various numbers of articles, although most of the national-

based with print editions carry more than 50. On the other hand, most province-based

with print counterparts have an average of 21 to 30 articles. Those with the least number

of stories are a weekly publication and a bi-monthly journal, both province-based.

Understandably, provincial publications have less content as their ambit of coverage and

audience reach are relatively small. Those with print counterparts have an obvious edge

over those solely web-based in terms of content. They have a regular source of articles

besides, in the case of a few big publications, their original content.

The frequency of content updating of most of the websites is tantamount to the

frequency of their publication. That is, if the publication is being published weekly,

normally it is also being updated weekly. Only a few publications (,, Sun.Star Network Online,, and update their

content (mainly their major news articles) constantly. These are the publications with

breaking news, and once again, they are mostly national-based. Many of the publications

are updated daily or regularly, as most of them are online daily newspapers. The least

updated is the one with the least frequency of publication – Nueva Ecija Journal, which

is a bi-monthly online news magazine.

Content Availability

In terms of content availability, majority of the publications have accessible

archives, most of them free of charge. Only one, Business World Online, has paid access

to all its archive. also practices paid access, but its last seven days of issues can

be accessed for free. Most of the accessible archives carry past issues dating back up to at

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least one year. The longest archive duration is 11 years (Business World Online), and the

shortest is five days (The Daily Tribune). The average or most common duration is one to

two years.

The most common type of archive searching is by date, as most of the past issues

of the online publications are compiled based on their date of issue, commonly by month.

Only a few archives can be accessed or searched using more than one option, such as

both by date and subject or key words. The other types of searching are by author and

section, although very few publications use these.

It is interesting to note that of the seven publications without accessible archive,

five of them are Metro Manila-based, which include two of the considered leading news

websites in the country. (See table below.)

Alternative means of news delivery such as through SMS and news mail are

available, but only to a limited extent. Only a few big publications offer SMS news


Online News Publications

Abante Online

Abante Tonite Interactive

Bandillo ng Palawan

Business World Online



Manila Standard

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Table 2.0 Online news publications’ archive availability



Archive not






Mindanao Times News



Nueva Ecija Journal

Pinoy Weekly Online

PJI Journal Group

Sun.Star Network Online

Sunday Punch Online


The Bohol Chronicle

The Bohol Times Online

The Daily Tribune

The Freeman Online

The Ilocos Times Online

The Manila Bulletin Online

The Manila Times

The Mindanao Daily


The Visayan Daily Star


The presence of multimedia features or the multimediality of the subject

publications is at a modest stage. Download options and audio and audio-video services,

for instance, are a rarity. Similarly, useful links to related information in major articles

are largely absent. The other options include download of the front page of a few

publications’ print counterparts and some data.

In terms of multimedia services or features, overall the subject publications

cannot be considered in an advance stage, as most of them have only basic features such

as simple images. The use of graphics is also low, as most of the publications have simple

and basic design and layout.

Content Services

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Among the services available in the subject publications are email newsletter,

news through SMS (short message service) or mobile phone, results of licensure

examinations (e.g. medical, engineering, and bar examinations), and “about us” section (a

section that provides information about the publication). Only a little more than half of

the news websites carry information about the publications themselves or the

organizations behind them. The study underscored the value of such information as it

allows the readers to know the people or the organization behind the publication and

helps them gauge the credibility of the news website. It is particularly useful to new


Only a few national publications, most of them big and leading media

organizations, offer SMS news service. Those that post examination results are all

national publications; the same with news mail service. Other services available include

online community bulletin and currency converter.

Links in Articles

Links in major news stories are mostly to other articles in the same section, and

not to related articles. There lack links to related information within the story. Only one

publication ( is noted to have these links, which readers can follow through to

get more information about the same topic or story. Similarly, it is the only news website

with links to related photos and audio-video clips. There is not a single publication whose

major news articles have links to related information in other websites. Some stories have

links to other articles and sections in the same website, but apparently they have no

relation to the stories.

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The interactivity of the subject publications varies, with a few offering advance

interactive features and the rest offering only basic ones. The most common interactive

feature present among the subject publications is email, followed by links to other

websites, site search engine, and then feedback section. Forums and/or message boards

can be found more on the provincial news websites. They serve as a channel for the

exchange of information between users within and outside their communities, including

community members based in other countries. Site map is also a useful feature to readers,

especially when the news website contains many sections, features, or services. However,

this is not commonly featured by the subject publications. Polls and chatrooms are also

minimally featured. Not all these features, however, guarantee interactivity as some of

them may not be functional or have some problems.

Majority of the publications provide only one email, which is mostly at the

publication level or for the whole publication. Overall, the subject publications offer

insufficient feedback mechanism through email. Most of them provide only one email,

which might not always be functional and does not guarantee a two-way communication

between the publication and its users.

Other online features available include article index, text-only option, help, and

article sending through email, but these are not being fully utilized by the online news

publications. Article sending through email is slightly being used, mostly by national-

based websites. Article index and text-only option allow easier and faster reading, but

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they are also hardly being utilized by the publications. Help section is not commonly

used either.

National-based vs. Province-based

In terms of content, national-based publications have an edge over the province-

based understandably because of their nationwide scope and coverage and their economic

advantage, as most of them have long-established print and/or television network

counterparts. On the other hand, community or province-based news websites have

limited coverage and audience reach. Most of them cover only the community, city, or

province where they are based.

However, interactive features-wise, these publications are not far from each other.

If most provincial news websites lack features and capabilities for them to be considered

interactive, so do most national news websites. Hence, improvements in terms of

interactivity and capabilities should come from both national and provincial publications.

Perils of Philippine Journalism: Problems and Limitations

Online news publications are not without disadvantages and limitations. In the

Philippines, the root problems are not in the medium itself or its features and capabilities

or the lack of these. Fundamental issues such as lack of resources and technology and

limited access to the Internet and computer hardware are more pressing. For instance,

lack of necessary technology is prevalent in rural areas where there is no fixed telephone

line necessary for basic Internet connection. Notwithstanding the presence of fixed

telephone lines, economic factors hamper people from acquiring the necessary hardware

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and software, from subscribing to an Internet service provider, and even from acquiring

telephone lines.

Such fundamental issues lead to other problems. Limited reach and low number

of users leave many uses of the online medium untapped. Such disadvantage is greater in

the countryside, a result of what is called ‘digital divide’ where NCR residents are getting

most of the opportunity to use the medium because of better technology and higher

Internet access.

Although these issues are apparently fundamental, economic or financial concerns

among Philippine online news publications stand as the most pressing problems. Almost

all of the study’s informants contended that lack of profit or income from the online

medium is the biggest concern troubling Philippine online news publications. Most of

them acknowledged the fact that most, if not all, news websites in the country are not

making any money. One of the main reasons for this is the expectation of users that all

the information on the Internet, including online news, should be free.

One of the specific problems among Philippine online news publications is the

lack of regular updating. A number of publications have not been updated for months and

even years. This problem may be traced to lack of staff to do news reporting and writing

and to do regular updating mainly because of economic constraints. This problem has

even led some province-based publications to close down. Even some national online

newspapers suffered from late or lack of updating.

Limited number of stories or lack of news articles and lack of in-depth reporting

pose more problems to small publications. For some news websites, lack or limited

number of stories is a cause of delay in their content updating and results to recycling or

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e-use of past articles. However, this problem is not so much with publications with print

counterparts, which serve as their main source of online content.

Majority of the online publications use English, an advantage to foreign readers

and those more comfortable using this language. However, although English is used in

official transactions and by various institutions in the country, many Filipinos hardly use

it, particularly in mundane conversations and dealings. They use Filipino or their local

language or dialect instead.

The specific problems identified by the study are summarized in the table below.

Table 3.0 Summary of specific problems identified


� Lack of constant or regular updating of content

� Practice of “shovelware”

� Use of print style of writing

� Lack of original reporting and writing on and for the Web

� Limited number of stories or lack of news articles among small publications

� Lack of in-depth reporting among small publications

� Recycling or re-use of past articles among small publications

� Use of English by most of the identified publications

Interactive features and capabilities:

� Focus on form rather than on interactive features

� Newspaper-like features

� Failure to effectively tap the interactive features and capabilities of the online


Economic factors:

� Low online advertisements

� Financial problems such as lack of profit or income

� Dependence of some publications on outside funding


� Lack of information about the publication or the media organization behind it

� Lack of or limited feedback mechanisms

� Lack of archives among some publications

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� Sporadic archiving

Infrastructure and technology:

� Limited and poor telecommunication infrastructure and information


� Costly computer hardwares and softwares

� High cost of getting Internet connection

� Low access to the Internet and computer hardwares

� Electric power failures in some provinces and poor Internet service

Human factors:

� Lack of knowledge among journalists about the nitty-gritty of online


� Lack of or low interest and motivation among journalists to learn more about

online publishing

� Lack of reporters and writers

� Lack of staff to maintain the news sites and do technical work

� Lack of priority by publishers


� Limited reach and low number of users leave many uses of the online medium


� Semi-weekly, weekly, and other less frequent publications not very effective

� Reluctance among adult audiences to use the online medium

� Lack of government support

� Divide between information technology haves and have-nots

Uses and Benefits

Despite the problems and limitations discussed earlier, Philippine online news

publishing is slowly progressing, especially in terms of its uses. The number of online

news publications, although some had closed down, is an indication of this progress. We

can categorize the benefits and uses of online journalism into four areas: 1) as a source of

news and information, 2) as a communication channel, 3) as an alternative means of

publication, and 4) as a means for other services.

1. Source of news and information

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The coming of the online medium means a new source of news and information;

it means that sources of news are no longer exclusive to the mainstream media. But this

medium is not intended to, or will not oust the long-existing traditional media. Instead, it

simply serves as an alternative to and complements these media (print, radio, and

television) in providing news and information, at least to those with online access.

An edge of the online medium as a content provider is that it gives readers an

access to past issues of news publications through their archive. This saves readers from

the burden of searching for old issues or articles at libraries or other data providers.

Similarly, as most, if not all online news sites are accessible to anyone with access to the

online medium, readers get news and information for free, and, equally important, they

get them fast.

The online medium is especially of value to the Philippines because of its millions

of people working or living abroad. For these Filipinos, at least to those with Internet

access, the online medium is the easiest and sometimes the only way to get news and

information from home.

There have been apprehensions about the impact or role of online journalism in

the country, considering the lack of necessary infrastructures and the immense gap

between those with Internet access and those without. However, the presence of Internet

shops or cafes all over the country, particularly those areas with Internet access, is said to

help fill this gap. These shops are particularly advantageous to those without Internet

access at home because of their relatively low service cost.

2. Communication channel

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One of the characteristics of the online medium that tell it apart from the other

media is its being real-time. Broadcast media such as television and radio may be

immediate, but they cannot compete with the content capacity of the online medium.

It is also one of the media commonly accessed by young users. Thus, it enables

news publications to reach the younger population, who are known to have more access

to and prefer more the online medium.

Finally, this medium helps lessen the problem of print media distribution or

circulation because of the country’s archipelagic geography. Most media outlets are

based in the NCR, and circulation to the provinces is hampered by transportation

problems and constraints. The presence of news websites allows wider access not only to

national publications, but also to province- and community-based publications.

3. Alternative means of publication

The online medium undoubtedly offers an alternative means of publishing.

Especially to small publications, it offers a cheaper option and a practical alternative to

cope with the spiraling costs of production and printing. Likewise, it allows community

or provincial publications to be accessed and read nationally and internationally, chiefly

benefiting community members outside the country.

Similarly, it gives progressive and reform-oriented groups (e.g. groups of reform-

oriented journalists) a cheap means to advocate for their causes and to provide readers

alternative news and information, as well as analysis and discussion of issues that are not

commonly covered by the mainstream media.

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4. Means for other services

Besides providing news and information, some online news publications offer

other services such as community assistance. A number of provincial news sites, for

instance, carried a section meant to help needy community members. The Bohol

Chronicle, for example, provided a link that featured individuals, especially children,

needing help and asked for donations from readers.

Certain online news publications, mostly community-based, also provided a

forum for users, most of them Filipinos based abroad. The message boards of these

publications, for instance, provided a space for the exchange of correspondences between

local and overseas-based users.


The online medium seems to offer promising opportunities in the field of

publishing and mass communication to a developing country like the Philippines, where

most traditional media belong to a few owners. Constraints have been present though

since the introduction of the Internet in the country. One of these is the lack of sufficient

infrastructures and facilities needed for the country to link itself to the wired world and to

adapt to the fast-changing ICT environment. However, this does not completely prevent

online publications from developing and progressing. Although a number of problems

and limitations continue to persist in Philippine online publishing, opportunities are

slowly being tapped. The perils are there, but the promise is great. ###

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Common Internet Terms

Chat room – a place on the Internet where you can use email for discussions with other


Domain or Internet domain – a part of the Internet that belongs to a person or

organization where they can access email or display documents on the Internet

Forum – a place on the Internet where people can leave messages or discuss particular

subjects with other people at the same time

Hyperlink – a connection that allows you to move easily between two computer

documents or two pages on the Internet

Hypertext markup language or HTML – a way of marking text so that it can be seen on

the Internet

Hypertext transfer protocol or HTTP - a set of instructions made by a computer program

that enables your computer to connect to an Internet document

Interactive – describes a system or computer program which is designed to involve the

user in the exchange of information

Internet – the large system of connected computers around the world which allows people

to share information and communicate with each other using electronic mail or email

Multimedia – using a combination of moving and still pictures, sound, music and words,

especially in computers or entertainment

Portal – a page on the Internet that people use to search the World Wide Web and that

enables them to access useful information such as news, weather and travel, or a

company that provides these pages

Website – a set of pages of information on the Internet about a particular subject, which

have been published by the same person or organization, and often contain color pictures,

video and sound

Web browser or Browser – a computer program that enables you to read information on

the Internet

World Wide Web – the system of connected documents on the Internet, which often

contain color pictures, video and sound, and can be searched for information about a

particular subject

Source: Definitions lifted verbatim from Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.


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P10 - Crispin C. Maslog.doc

Received on 12/04/2006

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