Quick Look

Blogwatch is a bloggers' initiative aiming to cover under-reported stories to inform Filipino voters for the coming May 2010 election.

Beginning Date: 
November 24, 2009
How many unique hits per month?: 
Project Scale: 
Types of Tools: 
Specific Tools: 


According to a 2009 study by Yahoo and Nielsen, 42 percent of the Philippines' estimated 20 million Internet users read blogs as a primary source of news; a higher percentage than both print newspapers and television. Aware of their increasing influence, a group of bloggers initiated Blogwatch to cover under-reported stories that traditional media do not cover. With just a few months left before the May 2010 Elections, the launch of this initiative is to address the urgency of voter education and to inform citizens about the upcoming election, which will use an automated election system for the first time in the country's history. The Blogwatch team believes that mass media, which has often been criticized during past elections for its superficial coverage, has a great responsibility to produce accurate reports on the political and technical aspect of the elections in order to keep both the process and political parties held accountable. “The better the caliber of media coverage, the more credible the election results will be,” says Blogwatch project editor, Noemi Lardizabal-Dado.

Lardizabal-Dado, recalls her passion for Blogwatch's creation after she was invited along with other bloggers to one-on one talks with presidential candidates in early 2008: “I was one of these bloggers. I felt uncomfortable with the invitation but it dawned on me that this was my chance to participate in the elections instead of just watching candidates speak on television.”

Though it has been challenging and time consuming to make appointments with political candidates in order to interview and host discussions, Blogwatch has stayed persistent to bring nearly all candidates (7 out of 9 candidates have been interviewed) to a platform of civic discussion. (This did not take place in traditional media.)


What are the biggest obstacles to your success?: 

Getting the candidates to take us seriously.

How do you plan on overcoming those obstacles?: 

We've been tenacious in getting candidates to be interviewed.

What problem is your project aiming to overcome?: 

Blogwatch is an initiative by Filipino bloggers that aims to cover under-reported Philippine election stories that traditional media cannot cover due to limited resources and time. It aims to bring about a healthy discussion of issues. It also aims to raise awareness about the automated elections, campaign spending, responsible voting and other election related stories.

What are the roots of that problem?: 

There has not been a healthy discussion of the campaign platforms and issues in past Philippine elections. The focus of traditional media were into personality or celebrity-centered coverage, mudslinging and scandals- exchange of accusations between parties and politicians becomes “entertainment” instead of policies and issues, the personal and political background of the candidates. Traditional media face limitations like short soundbites which don't not actually inform the audience about the candidates.

Why did you personally become involved in this project?: 

In 2008, bloggers were invited to  one-on-one talks with presidential candidates. I was one  of these bloggers . I felt uncomfortable with the invitation but it dawned on me that this was my chance to participate in the elections instead of just watching candidates speak on television. By chance, readers of my blog got interested when I wrote about the discussion. I resolved to be involved by writing about the candidates' platforms and issues. As luck would have it, I was the first blogger invited by the Philippine Center for Journalism (PCIJ) for a 3 day training in covering the automated elections and campaign finance. I created a voters' education page on my blog which I felt was just a drop in a bucket. I wanted a site that would put bloggers together. Blogwatch was then conceptualized with the help of the Philippine Online Chronicles to provide the logistics and support.

Are you providing unofficial channels of information that should be provided by the government?: 

We are informing the public about the automated voting machines, for example. We are informing them where they can find their precincts online, so they can sort it out quickly.

Why is the government not providing the information?: 

The Commission on Elections is providing information related to Automated Election which is being introduced in the country for the first time. However, there are still many aspects where they should educate the public about the party list system and publish more information about the candidates and their campaign platforms.

Is there a freedom of information law in the country where this project is based?: 
How does the information published on your website turn into offline change?: 

People are allowed to print our work.  They email it, They spread it via social networking and it goes around via word of mouth.  We were interviewed once on the radio and on national television. We have been featured in national dailies.  We've been broadcast via internet, TV and other mainstream.

What is an example of how information on your website has led to a concrete change?: 

We have heard comments from our readers that "they valued information provided by blogwatch, they have learned a lot about election which help them to vote wisely this time."

How many people work on your project?: 
How many hours a week do you personally spend on the project?: 

I spend at least 2 hours a day writing a blog entry or doing administrative work as editor. If there is an interview or forum, it can reach from 3 up to 6 hours including preparation and travel time.

How many hours does the whole team spend on the project?: 

Writing blog entries range from 30 to 40 hours a week while holding interviews with presidential candidates is around 35 hours so far. The latter is not that often. It is difficult to peg the number of hours because the interviews and attendance to fora just come.

What are the most time consuming tasks?: 

Research and writing. Since most of us are ordinary citizens with limited political background, we need to research first before writing a blog post. This is followed by holding interviews with candidates which also entails making appointments, following up with them, and researching their personal and political background.

How do you extract value from large amounts of data? How do you build engagement around it?: 

Our pool of bloggers are all incredibly smart and dedicated and passionate about their work.  They've done a splendid job of curating the information and writing it in an easy to read format.

How do you verify the identities of participants on your website?: 

I know most of the bloggers personally or they are mutual friends. I only invite those that I know or were referred by the participants.

How do you attract new participants?: 

I email them personally and ask them if they are interested to contribute to the project. Visitors to our site come from the community of readers and via social media networking.

What has been the most effective method of spreading awareness about your project?: 

By spreading it on social media and letting the candidates we've interviewed know about it. We've had over 15,000 views on our stream, for example.

What are your biggest referrers? Where does most of your traffic come from?: 

Our biggest referrers are search engines (Google, then Yahoo), followed by direct traffic, then Facebook. Our highest keywords have to do with the 2010 Elections -- "manny villar platform," "automated election," "platform of manny villar," "automated election system" then "platforms of manny villar." Search results most probably direct readers to Blog Watch articles, thus the many hits of the article "Manny Villar's platform."

Where is your content re-posted? What effect has that had on your project?: 

It is reposted in blogs and on social networking sites, especially Facebook. It has led to a greater interest in Blog Watch and the articles in POC in general.

Has legal action been taken against your website?: 


What metrics do you use to judge your own success?: 

It is difficult to measure our success.

What are the incentives to participate in your project?: 

We want to make the election as credible as possible.  We want to spread information about the election as far and as wide as possible.  This is our part in the democratic process.  This is our way of expressing our civic duty. This is our way to show our love for country and democracy. At the end of the day, when a new president is sworn into office on June 30, we can pat ourselves in the back for participating in this democracy. This is our small share in making our country a better place.

How do you plan on financially sustaining your project? : 

Philippine Online Chronicles through Vibal Foundation provides writers with honorarium so our content can be used with creative commons licenses. But we also want to bring in funds through sponsors to help us out with research or multi-media projects and creating our own tools.

What other organizations are you working with?: 

Aside from the Vibal Foundation, we also partnered with the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ)

Have you thought about developing your own tools?: 

We've thought about using frontlinesms and crowdsourcing crisis information. Also a skypesaurus where we can basically get multiple skype channels. 

Has there been any communication between your project and government officials?: 

None so far.

Are there any legal obstacles to your work? Any laws that should be changed?: 

We are very careful about being charged with libel.  I personally believe  that it should be decriminalized. We are very careful not to violate copyrights for images for example. We're big on creative commons.

Have there been any attempts to replicate your work elsewhere?: 

None so far.

What other projects in your region should we know about?: 

Vote Report Philippines (VoteReportPH), a grassroots-based electoral campaign that aims to inform, organize and mobilize the Filipino people to push for meaningful reforms in the 2010 automated polls with the aid of new media technology.

If someone gave you $30,000 how would you use the money?: 

Purchase our own live streaming gadgets and right now we are working with a blogger who owns a videocasting business. Later I would like to set up a foundation to make the project self sustaining as blogwatch intends to be a "citizens watch" after the elections.

What are your plans for 2010 and 2011?: 

The power of an aware, vigilant, organized citizenry is important even after elections. We will monitor the president's first 100 days. Even after elections, we will continue to be vigilant as our president grapples through the difficult transition to democratic restoration and economic recovery. Blogwatch will not just be limited to voters education. It will continue on as a watchdog for good governance.

Further Questions

Is there anything we haven't asked that you would like us to?: 

Our message to public: we want all voters to vote responsively, not to simply be swayed by the bandwagon effect. I want them to decide why they vote for this candidate based on specific criteria. We are promoting the criteria on competence, character, a coherent platform, and the clear vision for the country. Now it is up to them to chose their candidate. We are providing these choices and information is available on our site. It is up to the voters to look at this information which is also accessible via podcast and videos that can be downloaded. Basically, we hope to build a credible election and we are providing informational input that can help you to decide for the best candidate.


Review of Blogwatch

The Blogwatch guys have done good work keeping the web fresh with articles and updates. The editors have also maintained a clean layout and exploited various online technologies. The information is also layered in a user friendly way. The quality of posts are also very good and the interviewee mentions, they do spend a lot of time making the content digestible.

One thing that I don't see much of is comments from the readers. I suppose a lot of content is getting reposted on Facebook or other blogs so the discussion is happening in these platforms. It might be a good idea to get some links from these discussions and list them below posts.

I would also think of offline engagement as it might be difficult to keep the same amount of traffic after the election period. It might help to participate in various blogger gatherings and other social media events and present some content from blogwatch and their aggregation strategies.

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