ABS-CBN’s Halalan 2013 goes 360 degrees

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(Editor’s Note: While Bibsy Carballo is on her month-long annual vacation abroad, representatives from the three networks will alternate in writing Live Feed: Butch Raquel for Kapuso, Peachy Guioguio for Kapatid and Kane Choa for Kapamilya. Every now and then, Bibsy will email a story from wherever in Europe she is.)

Sixty-one-year-old pensioner Mario Mia wanted to do something besides voting and waiting for election results on Election Day last May 13.

As a certified Bayan Patroller, he volunteered for ABS-CBN’s Halalan 2013 coverage and became a moderator of the Bayan Mo, i-Patrol Mo Facebook page that received reports and inquiries on the elections. It was one thing he could do to be “a part of change” in the nation’s next chapter.

“Before, people would only be glued to their TV sets and radios as spectators. Now, they can participate as citizen journalists by sending reports via internet or mobile phone,” he said.

With the fast-growing use of social media and technology, Filipinos have become more empowered and even helping news organizations in gathering and breaking information.

No TV network fully understands this development better than ABS-CBN with its comprehensive election coverage of the recent elections. With the help of about half a million Bayan Patrollers or citizen journalists and 221 reporters in the Philippines and key global cities scattered in 45 live points, ABS-CBN delivered the most up-to-date election news on TV, cable TV, radio, online, digital media and social media. 

ABS-CBN Integrated News and Current Affairs head Ging Reyes emphasized the increasing commitment and renewed enthusiasm of citizens to do something bigger other than just vote through its Bayan Mo, i-Patrol Mo: Tayo Na campaign.

“They are determined to monitor the elections and help keep them honest and peaceful. Even more important, citizen journalists are using new skills to remind politicians of unmet promises and unfinished tasks,” she said. 

Bayan Mo, i-Patrol Mo: Tayo Na is one of the major components of ABS-CBN’s Halalan 2013 that engaged the citizens and empowered communities.

“We also maximized the use of technology to bring people closer to the events at the polling places, and respond to problems and queries of voters,” said Reyes.

Mark Madrona, an educator-online journalist who moderates the popular political blog The Filipino Scribe, said this approach is “as good as having embedded reporters in different localities nationwide.” 

“Persistent reports of PCOS machine failures contradict the rosy assessment given by COMELEC about the conduct of the elections. In short, through its tech savvy citizen journalists, ABS-CBN’s election coverage is now better contextualized with what’s really happening on the ground,” Madrona explained.

Since the launch of its year-long Halalan coverage in July 2012, ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs has produced the agenda-setting KampanyaSerye documentaries.

“Months before Election Day, our journalists examined different local races to look more closely at the issues that mattered most to voters,” said Reyes.

On top of these, Reyes said ABS-CBN organized and broadcast live debates on ABS-CBN, ANC, DZMM and abs-cbnNEWS.com and aired election-related reports here and abroad to help Filipinos make informed choices on who they want to lead the country.

The culmination of the Halalan 2013 last May 13 became the most watched and most tweeted election coverage among all TV networks in the country. ABS-CBN’s Halalan 2013 drew a cumulative average national TV rating of 13.7 percent from 6 a.m. to 12 midnight, higher than GMA’s Eleksyon 2013’s 10 percent, based on data from Kantar Media that covered national urban and rural homes. TV Patrol obtained a 27 percent national TV rating or 30 percent more viewership than rival 24 Oras (18.4 percent).

Filipino netizens also kept track of election news on Twitter where ABS-CBN’s Halalan 2013 coverage became a trending topic. The hashtag #Halalan2013 was the only election coverage-based hashtag of a news organization to have landed among the social networking site’s trending topics.

ABS-CBN also delivered fresh updates on the results in overseas absentee voting through its international news bureaus stationed all around the world. It also marked the uninterrupted 48-hour election coverage for ANC and DZMM TeleRadyo for both cable TV and AM radio audiences. ABS-CBNNews.com provided a social media tracker to monitor social media buzz about the candidates.

By making citizen involvement a key component in its Halalan 2013 coverage and pushing citizen journalists into the mainstream, ABS-CBN has encouraged and convinced people of their role in nation-building and progress. ABS-CBN also revved up its public service component by setting up BMPM stations last May 13 in key areas in the country to assist voters in finding their precincts, receive complaints and reports regarding the polls, and respond to medical emergencies.

Bayan Patroller Mia also added that it would also be good to see other people with mobile phones and computers riding on the citizen journalism wave, as he believes they should be educated on how they could contribute to change by reporting happenings in their communities.

He asserted, “I’m a proud Bayan Patroller. Even though I’m already old, I am happy to know that I can still help my country. I might never be able to see that change in my lifetime, but I am hopeful and I feel fulfilled.”

Democracy works when citizens are more engaged and are in turn, empowered. Technology and social media have not only transformed the way audiences consume and use information but have also undoubtedly elicited a proactive attitude and built a sense of responsibility in them. The Kapamilya network welcomes and responds to this change.  And it is why remains to be the most trusted TV news organization until today.

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