27 March 2010

My Interview with Maria

Maria Ressa is the head of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs Department and the former CNN International Jakarta News Bureau Chief

Also a guest on the segment was blogger Juned Sonido

Media in Focus: Criticisms and Controls Online - Maria Ressa's Phone Interview with Brian Gorrell
Unofficial Transcript
(thank you daddy for doing it for me)


Maria: Welcome back to Media in Focus. Two years ago, a blogger reached from the virtual world to chip the real world. Australian Brian Gorrell claimed that his former boyfriend Filipino DJ Montano swindled him out of $70,000. It seemed to be a tell-all exposé, full of drugs, betrayal and high-society cover-ups. Gorrell claims over 30 million have read his blog, and its hits and page reads broke every blogging record in the Philippines. The so-called Gucci Gang controversy sparked a debate on the limits of expression and libel laws online. We'll be talking to Brian Gorrell on the phone from Canada. Also joining us is blogger Juned Sonido.


Maria: Brian, are you with us?

Brian: I am, I'm here.

Maria: Hello, well...

Brian: What a pleasure to be on your program. I have to say thank you so much for inviting me on.

Maria: Well, thanks for coming on and updating us. Did you get what you wanted?

Brian: Well, it depends on how you look at it, I suppose. Did I get the $70,000 back? No I didn't. But I have to honest with you, going into my blogging journey, I suppose. I really never thought I'd get it back. But that didn't stop me from waging a battle to try to get it back and at the same time, put out there into the public domain what happened to me. That was basically my objective, well to just not let this person get away with what they did. And the blog offered me that opportunity.

Maria: Were you surprised by the reactions that you got?

Brian: Surprised, when I started the blog? The success of the blog?

Maria: Yes, surprised and then after...

Brian: Yeah, yeah well of course I was very surprised. Oh yes, of course. I mean I.. I.. The thing about the blog people don't understand... people don't remember is that I never started the blog in the Philippines. I actually started it in the departure lounge at the airport going back to Australia. So, I was nervous. Obviously there's some apprehension because I was already familiar with the cloistered sort of society and the way word travels so quickly over there. So, yeah I was shocked. I was shocked.

Maria: Well, critics said that you went over the line, that you disclosed a lot of things that were personal, that your statements were libelous, that you abused free speech. Where do you now draw the line?

Brian: That's an interesting statement. Looking back, to be honest with you, I do think that I went over the line a few times. I do think that I was pushed over the line for the most part. I don't want to say I lost control over the blog. But I've sort of lost focus because the blog did become so big. And it expanded so rapidly that in order to procure content for the blog, I had to, I suppose, push out my parameters of cyberdecency, I suppose you can call it, in order to not only keep my blog on topic but also constantly remind people why they're reading my blog. Because there was never really a place where people could go to read the things that I wrote. I'll tell you something very quickly, I'll never forget this. I was at a party in Manila and somebody had mentioned a blog, a gossip blog called Soozyhopper. And a couple of people, I saw their eyes, the terror in their eyes. The terror in their eyes at just the mention of this blog. This was the first indication I had that the protection in the Philippines for certain people was just so over the top. And taking the can off that... taking the lid off that can was really... I didn't know how big the can was.

Maria: Yeah. Well, given that now after you've lived through all of these, lessons about the power that you held as a blogger during that time period. What lessons did you learn?

Brian: Well I... I learned that there... with blogging comes an (often) sense of responsibility and it's easy to lose sight of that with the hoopla that surrounds you, when you are experiencing some sort of grand exposure I suppose. I was on the radio, I was on television, I was on the computer... I just seem to be everywhere and the lesson I learned is if you can't control the message that you're putting out there, then you should refrain from putting it out there. Because once my message got out there, it got pulled and pushed and twisted. Really, it's just something that I wasn't even familiar with anymore. You see, I just... it just became so big. And it is... and it still is very big. I still have 12 to 14,000 readers a day which I believe is tremendous considering my blog is two years old. And I still think I'm reaching a tremendous amount of people with my new message of course which is one of tolerance, forgiveness, hope, future and love. I really try to put aside the bitterness and the angst. I really... I intend to focus now on the future and helping other people...

Maria: Well, fanta...

Brian: I really learned a lot, I really learned a lot. The Philippines gave me something that I never got anywhere else in the world. And that's an education. And this is something that I'm forever indebted to because I learned more in the last two years with my relationship with the Philippines than I've learned in my whole life. And I'm a better person for it...

Maria: Thank you so much, Brian, for your candor and honesty.

Brian: I stand taller and I stand prouder.

Maria: Yeah. Well, thank you again for joining us, Brian Gorrell from Canada.

Brian: I'm always free to chat.

Maria: Great!

Brian: I'm so happy whenever I get the opportunity to touch Filipinos through any form of media. I'm just... I feel blessed with the chance to do it.

Maria: Great. Thank you again.
blog comments powered by Disqus