AMALAYER- a classic example of irresponsible citizen reporting

Back in 2012, my aimless Facebook browsing led me to this video of a young lady and a lady guard. Judging the number of likes and shares, my instincts told me there must something in this video. After watching it, my initial reaction was, “Ugh! What a b****.” (Almost every person my age had the same sentiment, after all.)

The video showed a scandalous confrontation between an LRT guard and a young student, which stemmed from the latter refusing to surrender her bag to the former for inspection’s sake. Annoyed with the lady guard’s insistence, the girl-who was identified as Paula Jamie Salvosa- yelled at her, saying the classic line, “So now you’re making me look like a liar. So I’m, a liar? So you’re telling me I’m a liar? I’m a liar? I’m a liar? Answer me, I’m a liar?” which made her acquire the nickname Amalayer (homophone of “I’m a liar”).

The point of this post is not to argue who is right and who is wrong. I shall only focus on the actions of Gregory Paulo Llamoso, the one who taped the video and posted it on Facebook.

While the moral code embedded on my brain tells me that it was wrong to berate the lady guard, let’s face the fact that most of us had a moment of unreasonable outburst at one point in our lives. The difference is that they were unknown to the online world. I remember this customer in our sari-sari store who shouted at me because she failed to receive her e-load. The network signal was slow during that time, and it was out of my control. Do I deserve to be yelled at? No person was there to tape the scene, but if the opposite was true and that person posted it online, she could be bashed and cyberbullied like Salvosa.  Also, when I was an active member of Wattpad, I bashed this young girl for actually liking ‘crappy’ and ‘pointless’ love stories instead of critically acclaimed literature. Labeling her ‘tanga’ ( roughly translated as ‘idiot’ in English) is a lot worse than what Salvosa did. But no ‘heroic’ netizen took a picture of my harsh comment, called me arrogant and posted it online.

The first pitfall of Llamosa’s action is its failure to respect Salvosa’ privacy. While others deem his action ‘justifiable,’ I’d say it wasn’t. Because it’s nothing but a normal outburst of irritation, not the kind of thing that has crime and injustice. Everyone does it, so why do we have to post something like that on social media other people’s lives? Isn’t that a form of gossip? Salvosa wasn’t even a popular person in the first place.

It’s a mandate for journalists to respect other people’s privacy. According to David Brewer’s article Privacy for Journalists, the exceptions when it’s allowable to a journalist to interfere is when it involves “(1) criminal and anti-social behavior, (2) corruption and injustice, and (3) incompetence and neglect.” Salvosa’s case fails to fit in any of the categories.

Another thing is that it’s a bit biased. As I mentioned in my earlier post, citizen journalists have a tendency to report only one side of the story. In the video, we only saw the way Salvosa shouted at the lady guard. However, Llamosa did not bother to see Salvosa’s side. What if the lady guard’s manner towards her is equally offensive? Isn’t it unfair?

Lastly, Llamosa failed to weigh the repercussions. The two mistakes I’d mentioned earlier gave birth to another one. Salvosa was shunned and bullied by many netizens because of the video he posted. He didn’t realize that a life was almost destroyed just because of a simple video. Although what Salvosa did is never commendable, she doesn’t deserve to receive a myriad of discouraging comments for something so trivial. To sum it up, let me borrow Philstar’s Cate de Leon’s statement regarding this matter: “These outbursts of douchery are disturbing, true. But you know what’s even creepier? The people who eagerly whip out their cellphone cameras and excitedly upload for the world to see, knowing fully well what’s going to happen to the person they just captured on video — knowing the power the Internet has to ruin people and slap them back for their deeds a hundred thousand fold. If you think you’re being the better person with your hand raised in documentation, it’s best to stop deluding yourself because, actually, you’re being malice personified.”

Citizen journalism can be abused. Before we post our reports online, let us always remember the code of ethics we must obey. If you have to think more than twice before posting, then go ahead. It’s better than transgressing a moral law.

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