On the Radar

At the heart of @PhilstarNews’ viral social media jests is journalism

Jonathan de Santos - The Philippine Star
At the heart of @PhilstarNewsâ viral social media jests is journalism
Philstar.com’s editorial and social media teams—who are essentially one and the same—take reportage seriously, but not necessarily its delivery to ayoung fun-loving audience.

MANILA, Philippines — No one person is responsible for Philstar.com’s social media voice. It’s as much a product of the times as it is something that people in its small newsroom decided to adopt.

From providing real-time fact checks, context and annotations to President Duterte’s speeches in 2016, the website’s social media accounts have become a repository for light commentary, in-jokes and pop culture references that reflect the demographic of the newsroom and of many of its readers.

Pushing the envelope this way does come with the risk of crashing and burning, but most posts have resonated with an audience that is increasingly online, present and frustrated due to the pandemic. At the very least, the efforts have been effective enough for legacy brands to try to push more relatable content on their own social media accounts.

More than just cheap tricks to get people to click or to fuel engagement, our social media approach is a way to show that the news—and staying updated on current events—is something that the average online citizen can and should care about.

If there are any tricks involved, it is that we actually produce quality and thought-provoking journalism while staying true to our personalities and having as much responsible fun while doing it.

Posts are content in themselves but they also direct attention to the contextual and sometimes critical stories they are promoting: As they say, a picture—or a meme or humorous .gif—is worth a thousand words but we have another thousand words if you want to learn more about the issue.

Acknowledging that audiences and the ways to reach them are constantly changing does not diminish the seriousness, integrity or dignity of newsrooms. Expecting young journalists to fit into traditional roles and modes that are no longer responsive to the times risks relegating them to irrelevance.

As Philstar.com looks for even more ways to get people to engage with news and information, our team hopes that the spirit of playfulness and the willingness to break convention is something that it can bring to other platforms and formats.

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