Monday, October 12, 2009

An indecent proposal for Ellen Tordesillas

I can imagine Ellen Tordesillas screaming and tearing out her hair as she wrote this blog entry:
Smartmatic’s indecent proposal

Last Friday, I got this strange letter from a certain Samira Saba of Smartmatic, the Dutch-Barbados-Venezuelan firm that partnered with the local Total Information Management and won the P7.2 billion contract for the nationwide automation of the 2010 elections.
If it involved sex, perhaps there's be enough reason to call it an indecent proposal.

But Ellen is a far cry from Demi Moore and the letter didn't come from a man who looks like Robert Redford, moreover, the proposal was not for sex but for a writing job.

I am old enough and experienced enough to know the difference between being offered a writing job and being offered sex.

The thing is, I also got a letter from  Samira Saba and it appeared to be a proposal to write articles for Smartmatic as a freelance writer.
I would like to know if you have the time and the interest of writing some articles regarding the following subjects:

1) Election automation worldwide, and positive experiences in various countries.

2) Election automation in the Philippines, past and present.

3) Different technologies to automate an election. Perspectives and comparisons: shortcomings, advantages, political implications.

4) Smartmatic technology in particular (in this case, we would of course furnish appropriate materials to the required depth).

If you are interested in adding our organization as a regular client for your freelance writer services, we can define the extent and number of articles you could write monthly. I will be glad to give you more details and answer the questions you may have.
Nothing strange here.  In fact, this is not the first time that I have received e-mails of this sort asking if I could do one kind of writing job or another.  This is the good thing about blogging, it advertises your skills as a writer.

At the end of her entry, Ellen says:
I find the letter insulting. It smacks of bribery. I had to take several deep breaths and reminded myself that I should not write anything when I’m angry.

Saturday, I replied, asking her “What and where in my articles gave you the idea that my services are for sale?”
What circumstances in Ellen's life has conditioned her to mistake an offer for a writing job as a bribe offer? By the way, who spent for her trip to Macau?

And she actually wrote about this on March 12, 2009:
Jullie Yap of the Manila Bulletin, Mandy Navasero of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and myself had a magical experience last weekend courtesy of someone we don’t know and we haven’t met.
Through a friend who want to remain anonymous, we were extended an invitation for a three-day visit to Macau. Accommodation: The Venetian.
Off we went last Thursday. I’ve never been to the The Venetian Las Vegas but those who have been there say the one in Macau is much, much bigger.

“Big” is too small a word to describe the The Venetian. Inaugurated two years ago, it’s grand, sprawling, overwhelming. It’s website describes the area as “equivalent to 56 football fields and large enough to hold close to 100 Boeing 747 jumbo jets. “
The Venetian is actually a make-believe city of Venice in Macau complete with the famous canal. And of course, the gondola. If you take the gondola ride, you will be serenaded by a baritone accompanied by a guitarist. I noticed it’s a Filipino (one of the more than 2,000 Filipinos employed in the hotel) who was the gondola entertainer. But if you want an Italian singer, the hotel can accommodate you as what one Filipina did. All throughout the day, Vivaldi’s music is played.

Just to be sure about if a writing job offer is the same as a bribe offer, I looked up how theKapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) defined bribery.
Asking or receiving money or any gift, present, benefit, or privilege to favor or put in bad light any person, group, or institution in the course of a broadcast is prohibited. Any act that may harm the public interest, damage the station, or put its credibility in doubt should be avoided.
This is much better than what the Philippine Press Institute has in its Journalist Code of Ethics, which merely admonishes:
I shall not let personal motives or interests influence me in the performance of my duties; nor shall I accept or offer any present, gift or other consideration of a nature which may cast doubt on my professional integrity.
Now, I ask you dear readers, does anything in the letter of Smartmatic come close to what could be construed as a bribe offer?  I would say no.

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