ABS-CBN Report details Maria Ressa’s legacy: campaign for citizen journalism, ethical standards, free media

In an ABS-CBNNews.com report, Princeton in Asia fellow Katherine Visconti enumerated what Maria Ressa, the network’s outgoing News and Current Affairs chief, leaves behind.

Ressa "gave the (ABS-CBN) news group back its credibility," the report said, citing Studio 23 News’ Vince Rodriguez, also Ressa’s previous executive assistant. She created a standards and ethics manual for the network’s journalists, which tackles issues such as coverage of religion and hostile situations. For the first two years, the implementation of the manual led to disciplinary cases: written warnings, suspensions and terminations. "Finally (in 2008, the manual) served as the journalists’ bible. And it wasn’t an excuse if they haven’t read it," an unnamed human resource representative told ABS-CBNNews.com.

Ressa told Storyline, "Before I joined ABS-CBN, I was the friend of everyone... When I joined ABS-CBN (in 2004), after I started making the move, boy, I cannot count the number of enemies that started racking up."

According to the ABS-CBNNews.com report, "Ressa ardently defends media freedom." The report cited a Senate inquiry into the August hostage crisis, where Senator Joker Arroyo asked members of the press to help draw a line between serving the media’s interests and the "national interest." Ressa said the constitutionally enshrined freedom of expression is a national interest and "one of the key goals of our country."

In the same hearing, Ressa also responded to criticisms about her opinion piece on the hostage crisis for The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). "Journalism, ethics and freedom of speech are universal... I wrote that article with the intent of constructively criticizing and hoping for better action from the government." Citing WSJ Asia editor Mary Kissel, ABS-CBNNews.com said the article was "a success because it stimulated debate across the board." 

The report also discussed Ressa’s citizen journalism campaign, which she described as "people power with new technology." For the 2007 and 2010 elections, she spearheaded the "Boto Mo iPatrol Mo" campaigns. It pushed citizens, named Boto Patrollers, to report to ABS-CBN issues like vote buying and document tampering in their communities. The TV network then focused on the verified information. During the 2010 elections, ABS-CBN had 81,000 citizen journalists from hundreds of barangays.

Storyline features Maria Ressa (Part 1)

Storyline features Maria Ressa (Part 2)

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Storyline features Maria Ressa (Part 3)

For more on this story, log on to ABS-CBNNews.com.

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