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Friday, July 31, 2009

Adventures in journalism 1

I have blogged in 2007 about being irked by the persistence in the misspelling of Cotabato: "It irked me then and still irks me now. With the great strides in technology, the built-in spell checkers and auto-correct features in browsers and word encoding programs, the misspellings are still as rampant as weeds."

Now comes the misspelling of Sarangani as Saranggani.

Using Google Reader to read online news today, I noticed a headline from the Philippine Star's online site: Suspect in Saranggani blast nabbed. The same word was misspelled throughout the news item written by Dino Maragay. Posthaste, I submitted the following comment to the said site:

Your copyreader/editor must be sleeping on the job. It's SARANGANI and not Saranggani. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarangani
Within the day, I got an email from Philstar.com:

Regarding your post:

Your copyreader/editor must be sleeping on the job. It's SARANGANI and not Saranggani. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarangani

Moderator comment:
This forum does not allow personal attacks against people or institutions.

Moderated by:
dinomaragay

If you think this post should not be disapproved, forward this email to the philstar.com Operations Manager Eden Estopace (edenestopace@philstar.com) and optionally state why it should not be disapproved.)

Note that the main purpose of forwarding this email to the Operation Manager is to improve the moderation process. It is not aimed at immediately approving the disapproved comment.

Ref no: 464040
Wondering why I was sent such a reply rejecting my comment as a "personal attack against people or institutions," I emailed the Operations Manager Eden Estopace:

Dear Estopace,

The attached (comment) is not a personal attack on your copyreader/editor. It was meant to correct the wrong spelling of Sarangani.

Thank you.
I opened my Google Reader again and found out the said news item was revised with Sarangani spelled right this time in the headline and text. I replied to the email sender, Dino Maragay, who also wrote the said news item with the misspelled word:

Hi Dino,

I just checked the online news item you wrote and saw that you have corrected the wrong spelling of Sarangani. Thank you.

As per your email-reply, instead of a simple thank you, this is what I get from you for calling attention to the error?
And here's Dino Maragay's reply to me:

Hi reader,

I made the judgment to disapprove your comment because it promotes an atmosphere of negativity for philstar. You could've just pointed out the mistake and we'll gladly change it. But instead you hinted that someone is "sleeping on the job" while in fact, no one does here at philstar.

Please understand that we, I mean I (yes, i'm the sole editor in charge for the entire day), am working at a very fast pace to provide you readers with updates. And such "unpleasant" comments, i think, are inappropiate to be given to those striving hard to give you readers free and updated content.

Anyway, please accept my apology for not thanking you for spotting an error for us. Thanks again and keep posting.

Cheers,
dino
My comment was "unpleasant," "inappropriate" and "promotes an atmosphere of negativity for philstar"? At the risk of being redundant, I will state it here again: With the great strides in technology, the built-in spell checkers and auto-correct features in browsers and word encoding programs, can't misspelling geographical names like Sarangani or Cotabato specially on the part of news organizations and journalists, in print or online, be called "sleeping on the job"?

Anyway, to deal with the reason for Philstar's rejecting my comment because it was a "personal attack against people or institutions", I wrote:

Hi Dino,

I think you need to check your dictionary as to the difference between "personal" and "professional."

My comment "sleeping on the job" is clearly not a "personal attack."

Thank you for taking time for this. :)
And this is his reply:

Well, that's the closest reason available and applicable to your comment, as far as our forum interface is concerned. ;-) Can't really do anything about it.

But the fact that you used unpleasant words is sufficient enough, at least in my judgment (which i am fully entitled to), to have your comment disapproved.

What? "Thank you for your comment" is not among the options in Philstar's forum interface? Let's look at this scenario: If Dino Maragay replied with "Thank you for your comment" instead of spitefully rejecting it with a click of his mouse and proceeded to revise the news item he wrote, then the above exchange of emails need not happen. But noooo, instead of thanking me for my feedback, Dino turned the tables on me and labeled my comment as "unpleasant", "personal attack against him" and "inappropriate" to make it look like it was all my fault in the first place for having submitted my comment.

What is crystal clear to me was that I caught a news writer sleeping on his job (for not checking the spelling of Sarangani which is part of his job - checking facts) which he did not have the gumption and grace to admit, but revised his news items anyway and thanked me after I asked him if a simple "thank you" would have been a more appropriate response.

Jeez, methinks DepEd needs to bring GMRC (Good Manners & Right Conduct) and Values Education back to the classrooms.

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