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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

pcs cancels digital pinay tilt

The Philippine Computer Society will no longer push through with its controversial Digital Pinay 2005 competition. Read this Breaking News story to find out why. (Well, at least the story was in Breaking News last night, hehe)

This story was also eventually posted in the INQ7.net Infotech section.

With all the twists and turns the Digital Pinay saga has taken, it might also be useful to see how it was viewed by media practitioners in other countries, such as the editors of the ITJourno Asia site. Since this site is only accessible to registered tech journalists, I'm reprinting their Epitome column:

Epitome:
Phil website slams rival’s beauty pageant
By Victoria Lea and Tan Lili
20/01/2005 11:50:00 AM

Writing for INQ7.net, Joey Alarilla detailed today how the IT 'beauty pageant' co-organised by tech publisher Media G8way is not proving an immediate hit with the ladies.

"A contest launched by the Philippine Computer Society (PCS) to seek out future women leaders in the Philippine information and communication technology industry has come under heavy criticism, with online detractors saying the contest is little more than a “glorified beauty pageant”, " Alarilla wrote.

The contest is Digital Pinay and, according to Alarilla's report, various women in the country's ICT industry are less than pleased with it.The women's concern centres on a) that the competition entry form includes a section on 'Bust' measurements and the like, and b) that they don't believe that looks and technology or business professionalism should be aligned in the same space.

According to Alarilla, an 'emergency meeting' has been called by the organisers to assess what their next move should be.

Ibarra Gutierrez, publisher of Media G8way, was quoted in the report, and managed to come off well, playing down any sexist overtones that may have been interpreted by detractors of the competition.

"I’m happy that the IT community is showing concern," Alarilla quoted Gutierrez. "After all, this is for the IT community, so the IT community should really be involved. The more heads, the better. So we would encourage more reactions, and we will respond to them. I went to the office early this morning, and I’ve already received a lot of e-mail messages expressing concern. I’ve promised to keep them posted and assured them we will be doing our best to address these concerns."


They also had a news item the following day:

Quotable

INQ7's Joey Alarilla returned with more on the Digital Pinay story, this time writing that organisers of the women's ICT competition are pushing ahead with the gig, and defending its merits.

"As the PCS president, I would just like to make one statement: It is not a beauty contest," Monchito Ibrahim was quoted as saying.

Alarilla managed another good quote, citing the PCS special projects chairperson - the one taking the flack for the application forms including 'Bust' sizes - as saying:

"I screwed up."

I'm sure that different people will have their own interpretations about this whole saga, and I have to say that this was a somewhat difficult story to cover. As a journalist, I strive to be neutral, regardless of what I personally believe.

I know many of the people who got involved in this whole mess, though some only virtually. Mon Ibrahim and Leo Querubin are actually not bad people when you get to meet them, and they've cooperated in making information available whenever I called them up, even though they knew how the news could hurt them. They knew that the news would also be picked up by readers all over the world -- including the regional offices of the respective companies of the organizers. But again, this is nothing personal.

It was also difficult in the sense that one of the organizers of the event, Media G8way, is actually the publisher of ComputerWorld Philippines and other IT publications -- and as you can see from the headline of the ITJourno Asia Epitome column, it was all too easy for some people to think that our stories were attacks against a rival publication. Don't even get me started on the "Kapuso vs Kapamilya" conspiracy theories when I wrote about the Tantra hacking incident. (Tantra is an online game published by ABS-CBN Interactive.)

I've seen this issue from different perspectives. I've seen how the opposing forces seemed to be talking different languages and residing in different worlds, and how each side tried to communicate with the other. Remember that this all began with the online crusade of Sacha Chua, whose outrage launched a thousand blog posts. I thank Clair Ching for giving me a heads up. At the end of the day, I think both sides have learned something from this experience. At least, both sides should have learned something -- and should ask themselves some hard questions.

I'm curious about many things: Who is the mysterious person who actually made that infamous Digital Pinay application form? Why is it that, of the many who blogged, only four bloggers were actually able to attend the Digital Pinay public briefing? And why is it that, of all the IT publications, only INQ7.net and CEO Magazine bothered to cover that event?

As journalists, we joke that we're thick-skinned. We have to be. We get flamed, we get called names. When we write something that's true but which is not flattering to companies, and they happen to be advertisers, some of them would even call up the marketing and advertising department, asking if they could tell the editorial people to back off, in the mistaken belief that as advertisers they're somehow sacred cows.

All you journalists out there, you know what I'm talking about. But that's part of the deal. Nobody said it was going to be easy. Sure, you get to enjoy some perks -- what job doesn't, and anyway, those in other fields have their own gripes as well. A lot of the time, however, it's a thankless job.

But if you love it, then it's all worth it.

Posted by Joey Alarilla :: 11:54 PM :: 8 Comments:

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