So Lo Mo what?

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva1 - The Philippine Star

TAICHUNG – The first time I read the monosyllabic words in my e-mail, it looked Chinese to me. Since the event will be held here in Taiwan, I presumed it was Chinese. “In the era of So Lo Mo – How digitalization has changed the media world and literary creation” was the theme of the 20th Asociacion Mundial de Mujeres Periodistas y Escritoras (AMMPE) held here in Taiwan’s third biggest city.

The AMMPE theme for this year’s world congress finally dawned on me as it formally opened last Friday at the New Civic Center Building Assembly Hall.

It turns out So Lo Mo means social + location + mobile. It is a newly dubbed concept that turned viral in 2011 and which I got to know the meaning of only now.

In the era of modern communication gadgets like smartphones and tablets, various social media platforms have also emerged. Social media network have flourished – from Facebook (FB), to YouTube, Twitter and lately Instagram and what-have-you – the language of which is completely lost on me.

It has not only changed consumer behaviour but has also revolutionized the production and consumption paradigm of information.

This gave birth to the so-called “new media” to refer to “bloggers,” and “breaking news” delivered by non-journalists in their personal Twitter, FB, YouTube accounts that darkly threaten to ease out mainstream media. The phenomenon called So Lo Mo arose as a result of the popularity of smartphones and tablets that integrate networks and geo-location technology at the tip of your fingers.

The keynote speaker of the World Congress, former Prime Minister of Slovakia Iveta Radicova spoke about the impact of So Lo Mo digital era in running the affairs of government where “digital citizens” exercise freedom of speech and express their sentiments in cyberspace. This is what she described as “e-democracy” in action.

“So Lo Mo as a new speech is something in between speech and written, new vocabulary, new grammar, new interpretation, very quick and sometimes very personal,” Radicova said. “They have their own blogs, bloggers or writers, new digital world, those who do not believe BBC nor CNN, neither commercial media, they write their own interpretation of the truth. So we are facing the pressure of new digital ability of citizens,” she pointed out.

Dr. Herng Su, professor of journalism at the National Chengchi University who spoke the next day at the World Congress, however said news writing in the digital age has not changed the basic concepts of journalism.

Journalism educators like her, Dr.Su said, try to help future journalists overcome challenges wherever they carry out their profession – at their desk in a news organization as traditional journalists; or in their car at a news scene as a mobile journalist (the so-called “mo-jo”); or in front of their computer at their breakfast table at home as a freelancer or backpacker.

As in the Philippines and elsewhere, she cited an increasing number of media companies in Taiwan that have taken steps to merge, such as newspapers, television networks, radio stations, and online journalism companies to disseminate news content on multiple platforms. As a result, one company would own print, TV and online venues. This industrial trend is called “media convergence” but the concept means much more than mergers, she quipped.

She noted journalism has become a digital enterprise. News websites, mobile services and TV newscasts are produced and consumed in digital format. Even the printed newspaper is the end product of a digital process, she added. The STAR has in fact, embraced this and come out also on digital format in iPad.

No matter the technology and format, the principal tenet of journalism has remained the same – using good news judgment to give people the news and information they need to make good decisions to lead productive lives, Dr. Su stressed. We certainly agree with her.

Despite a seeming bleak picture, practical newsgathering skills, solid grounding in methods of reporting, evidence-gathering and fact assessment remain the basic edge of journalists over those in the “new media” who have no such training, much less experience.

“As its heart lies person-to-person contact: reporters talking to sources, reporters spending hours a day on the telephone, reporters scribbling hurriedly in notebooks in corridors after press conferences,” Dr.Su pointed out. Technology must serve the purposes of doing good journalism, she stressed.

However, the impact of economic climate and innovative technology have greatly affected media companies. In 2010, about half a dozen US daily newspapers closed and went online. Even the once mighty Newsweek Magazine earlier announced it will print its final hard copies at the end of this year as it goes purely online starting 2013.

Here in Taiwan, she told us at AMMPE, newspaper publishers have been faced with ageing readership, declining revenues, sinking circulation figures and that between 2005 and 2008, eight newspapers shut down. And today, only four newspapers with large circulation remain operational in Taiwan.

Since AMMPE was established in 1969, Taiwan hosted for the third time the World Congress, which is held every two years. This is because this year’s AMMPE’s international president is Taiwan’s most popular and influential TV news and talk show host, Vicky Lee Yen-chiu.

“I’ve been in this career over 30 years but I still trust my pen. I’m not a big fan of Internet, Facebook and Twitter. Even today, I try to use I-Pad for my speech which is really cool. But maybe i-Pad may go wrong, I still trust paper,” Lee said. “Everyone can be on Internet but professionalism still gives the difference. Being journalist, we stick to truth and fact that cannot be compromised for speed. While we share hope for the better, this should be our mission and goal,” Lee urged fellow women journalists and writers of AMMPE.

The AMMPE was founded in its first world congress held in Mexico City in May 1969. Gloria Salas de Calderon, a Mexican writer, joined by other renowned women journalists and writers from 36 countries, declared the establishment of AMMPE and she was elected as the first international president of AMMPE. The next biennial world Congress in 2014 goes back to AMMPE’s birth place in Mexico City following the election of Mexican journalist Rosa Maria Valles Ruiz as new AMMPE international president.

At the end of two-day world congress, women journalists and writers  from the member countries of AMMPE – that now included the Philippines following the participation for the first time by The STAR – were one in concluding there’s so much we can adapt and adopt with technology to keep us relevant and vital drivers of information.

While we find it difficult to look at the future with the ever-changing advancements in media technology, So Lo Mo is no longer as daunting as it appears to be. Pen and paper are still mightier than these technological media devices. No dead spot or computer glitches to worry about, So Lo Mo what!



vuukle comment









  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with