The article in Comunicar called Online and Mobilized Students: The Use of Facebook in the Chilean Student Protests written by Cristian (2014) demonstrated what roles Facebook plays during the 2011 Chilean student movement by analyzing Facebook’s page of the Student Federation of the University of Chile (FECH). The findings listed the positive effects of Facebook on facilitating a sound environment to Chilean student protest. But except for acknowledging its significance, the credibility of posts on Facebook and how can journalists respond should also be concerned.
In 2011, Chile experienced massive mobilizations for seven months, where young people played a leading role in the discussion over education. During these events, Facebook was one of the digital social networks most widely used by the mobilized organizations, the messages published by FECH demonstrated that the following communication functions were used on Facebook: disseminating and framing information, responding to opponents and traditional media, counteracting official information, calling for public demonstrations and events, highlighting the positive results of the protest actions and support obtained, calling for adhesion, and finally, acknowledging and identifying the main detractors of the movement.
Compared with the protests in Chile, the sunflower movement in Taiwan in which students calls for opposing trade pact with mainland China indicates the social media could be the source of news but it lacks social credibility. It is almost a year since students and activists occupied Taiwan’s parliament, in protest at a controversial trade deal with China. The so-called Sunflower Movement was sparked by increasing public unease over China’s influence on the island’s economy (Sui, 2015). It is because posts are mostly recorded directly or comment with preference. But journalists are not only the recorders. This is what social media cannot provide. Journalist professionals will take more time to take interviews, collect data and present the piece in a proper way, while the way they frame a story to put issues in context is challengeable.
As journalists are asked to twitter everyday, hardcore news or soft news are usually mixed with the gossip that is difficult to discuss without basic finds. “When ‘for Dummy’ became dominate, we, journalists must be better doorkeepers”, Yi-shan Chen, deputy editor of Taiwan’s Common Wealth magazine said on the forum. During the sunflower movement, her students attended the protests and reported. It didn’t take much time to shoot with phones and made comments but what the “reporter” perceive may not be the fact.
It is necessary to clarify information with mainstream media’s platform, but the ways how journalists present the news and explain to public matters more. Chen talked 3 basic requirements of her column “Economic Explanation” that how they cover the issue with problem and solutions, how they use graphics and even animations help to explain hardcore issues and how their journalist can explain the issues clearly in public. All of the forms served for a better understanding of readers towards the topic.
Another speaker Nancy C. Carvajal is a reporter for the Philippine Daily Inquirer. She talked practical skills of searching sources for news stories. “Journalist is telling the truth, we should verify all the interviewee’s saying and ask for support and further proof for our readers,” Carvajal said. When social networking sites were not used only for this counter-framing, but also for communicating the message of the mobilized students, the credibility and truth of news should come first.
Quijada, C., Cristian. (2014). Online and Mobilized Students: The Use of Facebook in the Chilean Student Protests. Comunicar Journal 43: Media Prosumers (Vol. 22 – 2014)
Sui, C. (2015). What has Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement achieved a year on? BBC