Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Should I believe Mister or Miss News Anchor? How about Mister social media expert?

Credibility subsists on the opinions of others, 
true expertise relies solely on the merit of its work.

Better Philippines wrote a pretty good article on his observations about the current state of Philippine TV News and having a similar frame of reference, I agree with most of what he has written.

Another word for credibility is believability and the point I want to make is that when people say that someone is credible, then that someone ought to be believed.  

Most take the easy road and just believe things outright.  Which is why, sometimes, I think that the problem isn't so much that we have people claiming to be credible, but that we have an inordinately large population of people who are GULLIBLE.

Only a few actually spend time and effort to really find out if there is any basis for believing what is claimed to be believable.

The important thing to really ask is this, 'Why should I believe what the News Anchor or Radio/TV Commentator is telling me?' 

For example, if Mike Enriquez or Kim Atienza tells people through his radio program that a herbal supplement is effective in relieving some kind of ailment or will make you healthier, you can guess right that a lot of people would go out and buy it.  

But the thing that most people who buy the herbal supplement would have probably overlooked is that neither Mike Enriquez or Kim Atienza are pharmacologists.  They're knowledge of the herbal supplements, even if it were extensive, does not make them experts in the branches of medicine and biology.  

And while we are on this topic, let me point out also that most reporters are not really experts on what they report on.  Some reporters, especially the young and news ones, merely record and repeat what is told to them by their news sources -- who may or may not at all know enough about what they are saying.  Some times, news reporters are just told to interview one person or another and they have no idea why.

So given the deficiencies of the some people in the news media in terms of actual, relevant expertise or ability to accurately assess expertise before turning them into a news source, what the Philippine news media is at its most basic is just a bunch of people parroting (repeating) what was said to them.

Which is why it was possible for Tim Yap to mis-tweet that an reporter from the Philippine Daily Inquirer had won the 741 Million Peso Grand Lotto Jackpot.

Tim Yap, in mis-tweeting, actually proved that he was NOT a journalist -- although he is a section editor of the Philippine Star.  What riled a couple of real journalists is that Yap even made reference to being a journalist by saying that next time he would "check the facts", but missed the fact that he shouldn't report who won the Lotto Jackpot since it would endanger the life of the winner -- a fact that the PCSO recognizes and is the basis for its policy of not revealing the identity of lotto jackpot winners.

If you want to realize how silly the Philippine TV News is, take a look at the Weather Report segment.  Can you please tell me what the Weather Reporter is really a meteorologist or a weather scientist?  

The weather reporter in this case doesn't even attribute the source of what he is reporting and therefore gives the impression that he is actually the one who interpreted the weather data.

Anyway, reflecting a bit more on Better Philippine's observation that some TV News and its anchors focus on self-promotion and popularity in a brazen attempt to don the image of credibility, it occurred to me that some people who are merely quite adept at using social media (blogging, multiply, Facebook, Twitter, etcetera) are presenting themselves as new media or social media "experts".

In fact, it was Better Philippines who first pointed out the sudden proliferation of 'social media experts' in the days leading up to the US election where Obama won and especially in the lead up to the 2010 Philippine elections.  

Like the roadside fare of Lechon Manok, suddenly, there were 'social media experts' left and right.  But what is or what should be a social media expert?  

(If you want to have a more entertaining and profound discussion of "expertise" and the word "Quality", read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (P.S.)

The thing is, it would be hard to definitively define what social media expertise is unless you grasp blindly at what others merely claim it to be and that could be a whole assortment of things.

Anyway, here is what I think is a pretty good definition of an expert:
An expert is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain. 
An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study. 
Experts are called in for advice on their respective subject, but they do not always agree on the particulars of a field of study. 
An expert can be, by virtue of credential, training, education, profession, publication or experience, believed to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon the individual's opinion. 
Historically, an expert was referred to as a sage (Sophos). The individual was usually a profound thinker distinguished for wisdom and sound judgment.
Interestingly, here's a section in the same page that points to a misleading use of the word 'expert' and 'authority':
“Expert” is also being mistakenly interchanged with the term “authority” in new media. 
An expert can be an authority if through relationships to people and technology, that expert is allowed to control access to his expertise. 
However, a person who merely wields authority is not by right an expert. In new media, users are being mislead by the term “authority”. Many sites and search engines such as Google and Technorati use the term "authority" to denote the link value and traffic to a particular topic. However, this “authority” only measures populist information. It in no way assures that the author of that site or blog is an expert. 
Now, knowing a collectively refined definition of an expert is, you can probably now try to figure out whether the person presenting himself or herself to be a 'social media expert' is really a 'social media expert'.

In order to be a social media expert, then, I would suppose that you'd know almost everything there is to know about social media.

Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. 
Social media uses web-based technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogues. 
Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein also define social media as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, which allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content."[1] Businesses also refer to social media as consumer-generated media (CGM). 
A common thread running through all definitions of social media is a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value.
The way I think of it, being a Social Media Expert should mean that you know a lot about the technology that supports social media, the actual social media platforms used, and a lot about human social behaviour.

To call yourself a Social Media Expert, you'd probably have to
know how to use each and every kind of social site there is.
(Image found at

Permission marketing guru Seth Godin, for example, "graduated from Tufts University in 1989 with a degree in computer science and philosophy. Godin earned his MBA in marketing from Stanford Business School. From 1983 to 1986, he worked as a brand manager at Spinnaker Software" according to Wikipedia.

Well, Godin is NOT a Social Media Expert. He's an expert at marketing his ideas.

Anyway, I'll cut this blog post short and leave you with this:

but even if one could argue that they have developed enough expertise to legitimately don this label, they would be wrong. Because social media is a general blanket term that encompasses a sea of various outlets, and no one person could be a master of them all at this point. A master of Twitter? Perhaps, but no one would entertain the idea of labeling themselves as a Twitter Expert for their business cards. They opt for the generic title, which in this case, is not merely misleading, but it is inaccurate. A jack of all trades, but a master of none never really hit with me as hard as it did when considering this post. Because I can see that fit here in the social media conversation.
Excerpt From Rob
Social Media Expert – noun
A person who has a reasonably high opinion of themselves and their grasp of an area of social interaction and communication and likes to demonstrate said opinions through fallacious, self applied labels.

(Next: Social Media Expert... Yeah right.)

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