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Give movie writer Rachelle Siazon credit due her

What happens when a complainant of copyright infringement, or simply put, is not being attributed or acknowledged in one’s original work as copied by another to any platform becomes the channel of this unethical practice in the current marketplace of information especially in the emergence of socmed?

Remember the essay I wrote about the unprofessionalism of not a few vloggers or YouTubers about unwavering lift of any story, particularly from the print or social media, entertainment or otherwise and not even bothering mentioning the original source of the narrative. I was commenting on the conscious effort to copy, in toto at that, stories from my original write-up on the statement of Vicky Scherrer, also known as Gina Alonzo, about her leaving her husband John Regala. She admitted that she left John not because of his health or penniless condition but his being hard-headed about his irrepressible going out in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The whole story was reported verbally on vlogs—and in one of them, without even taking a little time to footnote its source.

But what if you were an instrument of the malpractice? 

Unwittingly, this happened to me lately about a story on Mel Francisco denying John Regala was his son.

My OpinYon newspaper Editor Luchie Aclan Arguelles sent me a link of a visual report on Mel disowning Regala as his son. I’ve been following the story on every John Regala piece closely that I could piece each of them together to create a “masterpiece” on the saga. The title of the vlog was “Ama ni John Regala, buhay pa May matinding pahayag (Father pf John Regala, still alive Has an intense pronouncement).” The vlog report was posted on September 4, 2020. The issue was very hot item to touch.

The author of the vlog was a collective Ivan Alawi Supporters. I kept on wondering what the hell this group was doing in publicizing entertainment news on social media. What could be the connection between Mel and Ivana Alawi or the members of the fans club? Or what prompted the members of the org to post a very sensitive issue on public figures apart from newbie Ivana?

Until now it was a puzzle to me.

I haven’t asked Luchie who was the source of the link, though. I just opened it and watched the contents. 

In OpinYon newspaper, both print and online, we have a research team to run through the basic and important issues on any event. This I learned when Aclan-Arguelles suggested that I talk to the research group about entertainment, lifestyle or culture beats for they might be able to gather some significant leads or stories in full about showbiz events I might have missed.

One of the sources of leads or loose stories about entertainment is social media especially in this pandemic time when travel is restrictive and full physical interaction isn’t advisable. Instagram, Facebook or Twitter feeds are mostly helpful to news gathering about movie, television and stage stars aside from actual interviews—virtual or physical—unofficial statements coming from second-hand sources or publicists of celebs or showbiz institutions, casual talks with credible people associated with stars or even conversations on the phone with bearers of news, good or bad. In creating news from diverse sources, there’s got to be delineation or separation of the grain from chaff.

There’s also such thing as organic news, a new journalism term I heard from GMA Network broadcast entertainment journalist Lhar Santiago when I called him one day and asked what he was doing. “I am doing organic news,” he replied.

I read on it and one of the meanings is that how to elicit views and perceptions of the audience about particular news, teaching the readers, listeners or viewers how to distinguish a good reporting from a bad one or even a fake news.

As I also understand it, “organic news” is a lead intrinsic in a piece of news that needs elaboration or other significant ideas or information that can still be drawn and elucidated from it. 

Generally, this stream of news on cyber—blogs, websites, news online etc.—is already an official source of reports by some standards notwithstanding fake news.

Anywhere on traditional or independent news or feature, there lies a plethora of objective nuances and realities in news but all these are getting ahead of the story. 

So I thought Ivana Alawi Supporters as vlog body is resourceful, enterprising and bold enough to present a very interesting and rare interview on Mel and his soundbites although the inactive actor’s statements were just written on screen with his current and old photos juxtaposed with the texts.

Although I was the first one to break the news that Francisco is still alive and well as per Nina Sara’s (a 1980s star who was raped by lesbians and later became Mel’s paramour) confirmation. According to Nina, Mel who sired her two beautiful girls, the dad of her daughters is in Laguna. When I asked her where exactly in Laguna, she just said “Hindi ko na matandaan (I couldn’t remember anymore),” she replied.

It was, as a matter of fact, a scoop and an exclusive disclosure about the elusive Mel Francisco and anyone could follow that up.

And so I wrote the story attributing it to the Ivana Alawi Supporters. I was very linear about the facts drawn from the statements of Mel who still disowns John.

I then sent the copy to my editor who quickly published it.

When she shared it in my FB wall, PEP.PH writer Gerry Olea (his given name formerly spelled Jerry but is now changed to Gerry because he said his former account was hacked) immediately posted his take on the story and said “o, di ba, exclusive ‘yan ng PEP.PH?” I was flabbergasted. Gerry quickly sent me the link of the news story from his portal.

Lo and behold! It was indeed an exclusive on cam interview with Mel which had a print version under the byline of a certain movie writer Rachelle Siazon. This was wholly the basis of the Ivana Alawi Supporters’ vlog which didn’t even acknowledge or mention Rachelle’s name or PEP.PH.

Too bad.

Unconsciously, I was a purveyor of the malpractice which could redeem me, I hope, by updating that the real source of the story was Siazon and PEP.PH.

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