I count myself very lucky to have been among the first winners of the Canadian Embassy's Marshall McLuhan Prize for Investigative Journalism in 1997. The prize is named after the Canadian electronic communication’s theorist who predicted the way we communicate about 30 years before the Internet came to a worldwide use.
I won the award – along with colleagues at the Philippine Daily Inquirer – for our expose on the multi-billion pork barrel scam involving less than 50 congressmen. Our investigative report shook Congress and the Ramos Government that it let to reforms in the pork barrel spending -- the government stopped the waste of public funds on “soft projects” such as waiting sheds, t-shirts, ghost cooperatives, basketballs and other useless spending after we exposed that most of taxpayers’ money are wasted on them.
Embarrassed and angered by the story, most of the 250 members of Congress threatened to sue the Inquirer for libel in the amount of P1 billion pesos. They also threatened to slap me and the Inquirer with “inciting to sedition”, a law former strongman President Marcos used to go after “enemies of the state” during Martial Law. (You can read more about my life as an investigative reporter at my daughter Arizza’s blog at http://www.krislibrary.com/2/post/2011/07/a-biography-the-kris-library-founder-armand-nocum.html).
A joint project of the Canadian Embassy and the Centre for Media Freedom and Responsibility’s Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Investigative Journalism, the award afforded me the chance to become a fellow of the University of Toronto’s McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology and be exposed to the lectures of McLuhan’s son Eric and learn first-hand the dynamics of social communications and technology when Yahoo was still an experimental technology; and Facebook, Twitter etc were non-existent.
Thank you Canadian Embassy, the Centre for Media Freedom and Responsibility, the Jaime V. Ongpin Awards and the Philippine Inquirer for putting me at the forefront of the social media, communication and technology 14 years ahead of the popularity and wide use of the worldwide web and social networking sites that the world can no longer live without! I am a very proud disciple – you can say a Jedi Knight – of the communications Guru Marshall McLuhan, considered the Father of the Internet!
Much of what we know about the Internet now we owe to electronic communication theories of Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) who is better known for bringing to the world the coinages “the global village” and the “medium is the message.”
Some 30 years before the World Wide Web came into reality, this Canadian educator, scholar and communication theorist already predicted through his books “The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of the Typographic Man” and “Understanding Media” how the advances in electronic technology would integrate the planet into one village with events happening in one part of the world affecting and influencing people in other parts of the world in real-time.
But in his book “War and Peace in the Global Village,” McLuhan warns that this breakthrough in communications technology has a caveat – there will be culture clashes, miscommunication, and mayhem brought about by the sudden exposure of global “tribes” to each other with their divest -- if not conflicting -- cultures and norms. Woe to those who are not familiar with the dangers of these new-found technologies!
“New environments inflict considerable pain on the perceiver,” said McLuhan said then, referring to the initial growth then of television and computer. In subsequent discussion with colleagues, he warned that the “Third World War will be a war of images.”
This “war of images” principle is what guides me every day as I sit before my computer, punch into my keyboard and use my mobile phones to communicate to friends, relatives, PR clients and the world – that means all of you reading this blog entry!
Mr. McLuhan’s theories also dictate my work as legal public relations executive who lives by the dictum: “Perception is Reality.”
Most of all, this clear – 20-20 vision if you will – awareness of the dynamics in the interplay of culture, technology and communication as expounded by my idol Mr. McLuhan afforded me the ability to use social communications to bring the message across world re the sad plight of child soldiers, lack of books in Mindanao and the need for the country to launch a “total education” campaign to address the problem of terrorism and rebellion down South.
If Kris Library has managed to build five libraries – and one more before the year ends – and put to school 101 scholars; provide free use of computers; help fill up six public school libraries with books and computers etc, then I have Mr. McLuhan to thank for giving me the knowledge and insight on how to effectively use the social networking sites and traditional/old media to reach out to local and foreign donors.
So thank you Mr. McLuhan, the Canadian Embassy led by Ambassador Christopher Thornley, Ms Tiffany Urrutia, Lourdes K. Mercado-Balbin and Mr Carlo Figueroa and all my dear friends and fellow McLuhan Knights from Canada for the social communication insight and the books!
May the positive force of social media be with you all!