Tuesday, September 12, 2006

JACnet's back online


THE Journalists Against Corruption Network (Jacnet) website is back online! The URL is http://www.jacnet.blogspot.com/ featuring Allan Mediante's "Lord of the Flies", the first ever investigative story approved by the JACNet Editorial Board for publication way back in 2004.

Jacnet was originally conceived to be the "virtual newspaper" for investigative stories of the Journalists Against Corruption Network (Jacnet). The original site received financial and technical assistance from the Phil. Australian Governance Facility (PAGF) project but failed to sustain itself after it was hit with a couple of shutdowns by local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) hosting the site. As a result, all the materials collated at both sites were lost and the project languished in the doldrums.

Early this year, the new Board of Directors took another look at the project and appointed yours truly to head the committee to see if the project could be resuscitated. With materials provided by past president Herbie Gomez, the remaining hard copy of the Jacnet materials were painstakingly encoded back into the computer by my kids Miguel and Leon at our residence during their free time.

Next, I recruited newly installed director Ben Balce to remake the Jacnet site which was originally designed and constructed by COPC member Ruel Pelone. The site is still under construction and more materials are lined up for inclusion.

With the new site up and running, the Board will consider in its next meeting to reorganize the Jacnet editorial board. Ben and I have already significed to COPC Pres. Uriel Quilinguing and the Board of Directors our willingness to continue serving as the Board representatives in the Jacnet Editorial Board, at the same time acting as its Online Management Team.

The PAGF project report recognizes the efforts of Ruel as the the web developer and first administrator of the Jacnet website. It says "He was particularly effective, not only in constructing the website, but working closely with the website subcommittee of Jacnet. He was open to suggestions and at the same time maintained the design and structural integrity of the site.

One pleasing side-effect of the training and Mr. Pelone's management of the process is that a number of the training participants have started to develop their own sites. He was happy to support them in this."

Jacnet also previously extended an invitation to Sangga Kagayanon to host the SG website on the Jacnet website until they are able to go 'independent'. The invitation was accepted and the project funded the additional costs for developing the site and for the additional domain name
www.sanggakagayanon.com.ph . This was done to preserve the independence of the organization's identity. The resuscitation of the Sangga website will also be taken up during our next board meeting to complete the original foundation for Jacnet.

Good governance principles were used as a guide in all the considerations that led to the formation, structure and rules for JACnet. The key considerations in organizing the Editorial Board were to ensure an editorially mature and legally aware Board to guide JACnet; ensure quality stories are produced without putting the COPC at unreasonable risk of legal action, and at the same time, to ensure that JACnet is editorially free from any editorial or other inappropriate pressures from the COPC Board or from outside.

There is a separation of powers between the COPC Board of Directors and the Jacnet Editorial Board. Legal guidelines and protocols are in the process of being drafted by the Project lawyers to minimize the possible legal risks top the COPC as well as the Editorial Board and the contributing journalists.

The COPC Board of Directors has been mandated to automatically set aside a budget for Jacnet at the start of their office, even if the new Jacnet Editorial Board members have not been elected yet.

The Editorial Board will also administer the budget to take care of the Website.
Income generating activities will be pursued by COPC to sustain the grants for investigating stories. This will be done through the Business and Marketing Plan.
Jacnet is governed by a seven-member Editorial Board. The roles of the Editorial Board have been defined and documented with the assistance of the legal advisors. This was deemed necessary in the light of the Jacnet commitment to fund and encourage publication of investigative stories, especially against corruption, on their own website.
The Editorial Board members take an oath of commitment to uphold the COPC Code of Ethics. It reviews and approves story proposals based on set criteria. The Board meets as the need arises – regular meetings, review and approval of story proposals, monitoring the progress of an investigative story, and review and approval of stories for publishing.
Board members are bound by oath to keep any information gained from the investigative stories confidential until Jacnet approves the stories for release. The members take their oath of commitment before the COPC Board of Directors.
The Editorial Board appoints the members of the Online Management Team for the Jacnet website. As of the moment, Director Ben Balce and myself are also serving in the capacity.
The Editorial Board is accountable to the COPC General Assembly. Its members are appointed by the COPC Board of Directors each year, three months after the COPC' elections.
The Editorial Board appointments will be based on the following criteria:
Four senior journalists – three to represent each of the print, radio and television media, one to be a senior journalist either from print, radio and television; Two COPC Directors to be the COPC Board's representatives in the Jacnet Editorial Board; A lawyer who may or may not be a COPC member, and
The COPC President may sit in the Jacnet Editorial Board but shall have no voting powers
Criteria for membership
PRINT JOURNALIST – Regular journalist of a newspaper, whether employed or not, as long as he/she is a regular columnist/ contributor; at least five (5) years experience in print media; must be a member of the COPC.
RADIO JOURNALIST –Regular radio broadcaster, whether news editor, reporter or commentator; with at least five (5) years experience in broadcast media; must be a member of the COPC.
TV JOURNALIST –Regular TV broadcaster, whether news editor, reporter or newscaster; with at least five (5) years experience in broadcast media; must be a member of the COPC.
TWO (2) REPRESENTATIVES OF THE COPC BOARD OF DIRECTORS –Appointed by the COPC President or the Board of Directors.
LAWYER –Must have an understanding and knowledge of media and journalism and its dynamics; does not necessarily have an experience in media practice; may or may not be a COPC member.
JOURNALIST –May be from the print, radio or TV industry; with at least five (5) years experience in broadcast media; must be a member of the COPC.
COPC PRESIDENT –Must be the elected incumbent President. The Press Club President is an immediate member of the Editorial Board. The President is an ex-officio and will not exercise any voting powers in the Editorial Board.