Telum Talks To… Jules Guiang, Head of Community, Rappler

Telum Talks To… Jules Guiang, Head of Community, Rappler
George Putong

Jules Guiang is a former People’s Television Network News Anchor & Host who is now the Head of Community at Rappler. We sat down with him to learn about his new team and what he thinks is the best way to deal with trolls.

Tell us more about your role as Head of Community at Rappler.
It is a totally new kind of job compared to my on-cam experience from the past eight years. I have always wanted and prayed for a media organisation job that lets me practice managerial and leadership skills with a kick of activism.

As Head of Community, I am expected to steer and monitor the direction of Rappler's Digital Communications Unit, Rappler's civic engagement arm (Move.PH), Rappler’s membership program (Rappler PLUS), and Rappler’s Grants and Partnerships Unit. Rappler is like a laboratory where we are allowed to turn ideas into reality. We have the liberty to explore our ideas if they are aligned with Rappler's pillars: journalism, technology, and building communities.

What influences you as a journalist?
Though I am not directly involved in covering stories, what influences me is my bias for the truth. We live in a time when social media is weaponised by those in power - to push their agenda, they would seed alternative truths using their mammoth troll farms. What is alarming is when you repeat a lie N times, it might appear as the truth eventually. That is why, now more than ever, journalists must continue to seek the truth and serve as watchdogs for those in power. 

What stories are you and your team most interested in covering?
Speaking truth to power is what interests us at Rappler. I'm tasked to create a community that itself will create communities of impact and action.  That is why we launched #CourageON: No Lockdown On Rights Coalition. What is unique with Rappler is that we do not just cover stories, we also create communities out of our stories. For me, this is the kind of impact we should all strive for.

What are you looking for from PRs? How can they engage better with your team?
PRs could help us amplify the campaigns we are currently implementing. PRs can help us disseminate our message of creating more allies, especially in a time when campaigns for human rights, democracy, and press freedom are often ridiculed by people in leadership roles.

Social media can be intense for some journalists. What is your advice in dealing with trolls and those who promote disinformation?
I often hear the advice not to engage with them because if they are paid to do that, we are only giving them more money. But I say otherwise. I suggest engaging at least once. Why? What if in a comment thread, nine troll accounts are spewing lies. Flybys or readers may consider it as factual because a good number of accounts are saying the same thing. But what if you engage at least once? You break their narrative. Those flybys might think twice if they read your insights. 

We should strive to engage because our job as journalists does not stop once our stories get published. It is a continuing conversation with our readers, our fellow countrymen.

You survived COVID-19 and wrote these words: “Tell your story. Humanize the figures.” – what can both journalists and readers do better, to get us out of the pandemic?
During the start of the pandemic, we knew the names of those who died. Fast-forward to the present, more than 24,000 people have died. We, as journalists, can’t name them all, but we need to humanize the figures. 24,000 deaths mean 24,000 families grieving. We need to tell that story of how the pandemic has impacted their lives. We need to cover the story of survivors - how did they survive? We are living in an extraordinary time. These 24,000 deaths are unique and have compelling narratives that need to shared.

Jules shares more of his views on Twitter and Facebook.

Telum Media gives journalists a platform to share their experiences in the newsroom and out in the field. If you would like to share your story or nominate someone to be featured, email us at philippinesalert@telummedia.com

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