ICYMI, the news has been breaking on Viber first. The messaging app has turned out to be the preferred platform of top government officials to relay often highly sensitive information to journalists.
When rumors that President Rodrigo Duterte was hospitalized started spreading like wildfire, then Special Assistant to the President and now Senator Bong Go quelled those by sending reporters photos of the chief executive reading newspapers at Bahay Pagbabago through Viber. The same was used when Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo denied that Duterte allowed the Kapa Community Ministry to continue operations. But this preference doesn’t end inside Malacañang.
Even Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who oversees national security, is also on Viber, and once relied on the app to inform reporters that he was undergoing an executive checkup. Other government officials also maximize it to welcome a new Cabinet member or share updates on a court order. Members of the Congress, too, bank on this messaging app to reach out to the media and make sure their side on an issue gets aired or printed or posted.
In today’s fast-paced news cycle, Viber has become a valuable source of news that helps journos survive the daily grind.
hen a news article reads “told reporters in a Viber message,” it means that the journo received the information in an invite-only group chat with colleagues and the source. As most journalists are often assigned out of the office, group chats have been the convenient way to get real-time updates about their beat. The messaging app has also made it a lot safer for them to exchange crucial messages with its built-in end-to-end encryption, even Viber can’t read its users’ messages.
Viber is also a multi-platform chat app, allowing its users to access their group chats either via smartphone or laptop. This is great news for journos who are on the go most of the time, either en route to a coverage or chasing a source. If a spokesperson or a media relations officer sends a file or a long statement, reporters have the option whether to process the information on whichever device is most convenient at that moment. What’s more, the app also allows users to send and receive a file of up to 200MB, which is way more than enough for a high-quality photo, video, or any file type.
Reporters are not the only ones using the app to keep up with their beats, their media outlets have also used the app to reach out to their readers. ABS-CBN News, GMA News, Inquirer.net, Rappler, and many others have created their own community on Viber to share the latest stories with their followers. These communities, which are controlled by designated superadmins, are also serve as a safe space for news junkies who want to be in the know—minus the noise and the trolls.
With these features and its continuous commitment to privacy, Viber continues to empower the media to exercise their freedom to bring the most important stories of the day to the light.
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