Facebook and Doronila

The connection looks remote. The first is a social web phenom, albeit an abuser of privacy rights of those who choose to join. The second is an old-school journalist in the Philippines who, unfortunately, has ‘lost it.’

Because Facebook exists, I have decided to make good on a teeny protest against the inanity of broadsheet newspapers, especially the Inquirer, who thinks highly enough of Amando Doronila to keep running his unreadable stuffs. And stuffs they are. The protest is simple: I will no longer be a paid subscriber to the Inquirer’s print version. In any case, I’m sure the newspaper will survive (it has enough ‘friends’ in the economy who will pay for ads). It’s also a protest against the presence of one Rigoberto Tiglao on the newspaper’s pages.

The protest is on balance easy, even profitable. Some news is still important. But aha, that’s where web 2.0 kicks in. The news I think important are those some FB friends consider as well. I noticed that we ‘help’ each other by linking to things we may agree – and more often – disagree on. This makes for an interesting experience. My news world has expanded to include the two Times (Los Angeles and New York), the Philippine Star (which used to have some kind of strange bias a while back), the Manila Standard (which is fast becoming the better version of the Daily Tribune), something called the Onion, and even that openly unbiased wanna-bee called Rappler.com. The reality is that everything out there has a bias, so caveat lector be.

Doronila has already taken up enough of my time. Fool that I was, I kept hoping there might still be some redeeming value in his pieces, but it seems that the better ‘gamble’ is to just say No. Now, I no longer have to pay real money to the Inquirer, but can keep a tab on what’s up through FB friends’ links. The nice thing is that pulling the plug was painless. I simply told the household help to call up, on the landline, the local news vendor. The dogs will miss barking at the delivery guy, but they have other folks to bark at.

It now turns out that FB has some personal value even if I can’t get a piece of its IPO incomings. I get to avoid P1,000/month of news print subscription fees. That’s not exactly peanuts. (It’s more expensive by twice than the monthly dues on an unli-call/text postpaid plan at the post-merger Sun.) The capitalized present value of this opportunity ‘gain’ is roughly US$1,200. Not bad as my valuation of my FB friends’ news-wise wisdom.

Finally, I must thank Mr. Doronila for getting me to think about the matter. He didn’t exactly show me the way, but, hey, you can’t win it all.

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