Some ignoramus in our midst have troubles deciphering the true meaning of the word "opinion". In the practice of journalism, whether in tri-media or citizen journalism such as blogging, expressing one’s opinion in interpreting things and issues that come his way is not merely confined to his own thoughts but understanding as well. It has become an integral part of journalism and other forms of writing so that almost all publications accommodate it, not only as means to give a taste of variety to a given medium of expression, but also to entertain the thought that those who wish to respond to a given issue at hand will have the opportunity to ventilate his grievances in such a way that is fashioned to his own interest.
However, it becomes complicated and inutile when someone dictates upon the mind of any citizen journalist who has his own sphere of influence in carrying out his passion for blogging, by telling him what to do, even if what he wrote was an opinion piece. For me, an opinion article is totally distinct from a structured news story, which is under the close scrutiny of editors, if one is working in a print publication. Although not a bad precedent, blending a variety of style and materials into the opinionated article now lies on the writer himself, who is not under the dictates of any master but himself. In short, it’s now up to the opinion writer if he really wanted to gather materials or just do some plain research to enliven his opinion article. But as I said, writing the opinion piece totally depends on the style and articulation of the writer himself. In other words, I consider the opinion piece as the "Rotweiller" of the journalism profession.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines opinion as a belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof. Opinion is applicable to a judgment based on grounds insufficient to rule out the possibility of dispute. Such that then 28th US President Thomas Woodrow Wilson said: "A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own, have rendered the great Government of the United States helpless and contemptible."
Likewise, the late Hugo L. Black, associate of the US Supreme Court (1937-1971) added: "My view is . . .that freedom of speech means that you shall not do something to people either for the views they have or the views they express."
However, what happens is sometimes some readers would tend to murky the real issue by attempting to pull out the punches because the citizen journalist concerned has touched on a controversial subject that they felt haunted their sinister conscience. I’m not saying that those who were hurt when one expresses his positive opinion are directly or indirectly involved in something that is against the laws of the land. It is public knowledge that more and more journalists are increasingly attacking those people whom they feel are part of shady deals. The question now is can we stop them from doing so because they have been critical towards the wrong-doings of other people in the midst, particularly those in government where graft and corruption is rampant. Now, if I say that graft and corruption in Philippine government, including the military and the police as what other columnists often berate in their columns, is not a natural phenomenon in the country, I’m cheating myself. In fact, corruption is nothing new in the truest sense of the journalism lingo.
And honestly, while there is rampant graft and corruption in any government, the media can’t just sit on their ass to let the world spin around. In this way, they will always have the variety of options to capitalize on the wrong-doings of people and entities as well. This is the reality of time that most of us can do nothing but simply shake our heads in helplessness. Human beings, anyway, are not perfect and are subject to commit mistakes along the way. However, gagging any journalist, like the rest of the populace, on what he is supposed to do is a tangible violation of his constitutional rights and freedom of expression. Notably, this is the primordial reason why citizen journalism came in. My advice is that next time, don’t mix up up an opinion piece to that of a structured news story or any investigative article for that matter because it only makes us ignorant in journalism.