Friday ∗ 11 Aug 2017

#Andanar’s learning curve, social media user accreditation, #PCOO’s downward spiral

It seems the learning curve is steep for Martin Andanar — and everyone else on the Duterte communications team. A year in, and this week’s mistakes and mishaps can only be symptoms of the bigger crisis that is Presidential and government communications. We are also reminded (yet again!) that we are wasting public funds on the salaries of officials who have no idea what they’re doing.

After a year, instead of actually evolving in his knowledge of social media, Andanar is still stuck on his simpleton assessment of what social media is about. He’s still working with the nonsense of counting followers like it matters. Department Order 15, which seeks to accredit “social media practitioners” to cover PCOO and Presidential events even asserts that social media is where “the citizenry” might be “engaged” in order to “enrich the quality of discourse.”

Was Andanar in the Philippines the past year? At what point did partisan social media (that is, pro-Duterte and pro-Dilawan) “enrich the quality of discourse”?

Here’s the problem with Andanar and his DO15: it is blind to the state of social media, it is based on nothing more than the juvenile belief in social media followers, and it is ultimately about PCOO getting people to do its job, i.e., report on the President and government events, without having to pay people to do it.

Let me start with this, because much of the media coverage on DO15 has generally gotten it wrong, including Luis Teodoro of CMFR on Twitter. DO15 does not seek to accredit bloggers; it seeks to accredit “social media practitioners.”

An aside: USec Mocha Uson calling her Facebook Page a “blog” is wrong, and everyone else saying she is a blogger, and that her FB account is a blog, is to encourage that wrong. Thinking Pinoy is a blogger with a blog. As is Sass Sassot. Mocha is NOT a blogger, she DOES NOT HAVE A BLOG. That she is Undersecretary for Presidential Communications and she’s mis-calling her own public page is already the irony of her even being paid P90k++ a month on public funds. End of aside.

Now why must we make this distinction? Because bloggers will at least have a website you can go to, with articles already written, with (ideally) proof of research and analytical skills. Picking among bloggers that might be given “access” to the President and to PCOO events will mean looking at a different set of people, and could even encourage people to start writing more thoroughly and carefully about issues. At least with bloggers, it is easier to build a more stringent process and set of standards for whatever form of accreditation.

Who Andanar’s DO15 actually seeks to accredit is much worse than bloggers: they are “social media practitioners,” who are defined as

<persons> that maintain a publicly-accessible social media page, blog or website, which generates content and whose principal advocacy is the regular dissemination of original news and/or opinion of interest.

So it does include bloggers, but is not limited to them; it also includes people with websites which, as with the blog, would make it easier to actually assess who has the skills to even be covering these events. But here’s where Andanar really screws up: the requirements for accreditation.

Filipino Citizen
At least eighteen (18) years of age
With not less than five thousand (5,000) followers in any social media platform

This brings us back to the PCOO’s absolute ignorance about what matters and why, given the internet and social media, especially given the huge responsibility of covering official events.

Let’s start with the obvious: to base anything at all on number of social media followers is silly. The number of followers does not mean you are credible, nor that you are correct. We follow people on social media for different reasons, none of which might have to do with credibility or importance. That celebrity accounts have the most number of followers should tell us that what it is based on is an amount of fanaticism and a good dose of idolatry.

Neither of which are important to actually function as writer, analyst, or media practitioner. Those are not a measure of anything that’s even remotely connected to covering government events and the President. Instead of number of followers, what is important to media is to cover events within the bounds of journalism ethics, plus the editorial policies of their respective media organizations. They are answerable to their editors and bosses, to each other, and to the public.

Meanwhile, Andanar’s “social media practitioners” will be given access to government events and the President without the same set of ground rules — and neither is there a set of requirements in terms of output. After all, Andanar gave Duterte supporters access to ASEAN50 events based solely on the notion that they would “help promote the event,” never mind that it’s unclear how the effectivity of these “promotions” are measured, if these are measured at all.

These “social media practitioners” don’t have organizations that “employ” them either, which makes one wonder whose money they will be spending to even get to and from events, to and from Malacañang? And who are these people who are willing to do PCOO’s job, without being paid? Kris Ablan has already called them “citizen journalists” — which is of course a misnomer.

The more important question though is this: Why would any Presidential Communications team even want to do this to the President? It would be so easy to pretend that one is pro-Duterte just to get access to him and start lambasting him to his face, or just to get access to an event of PCOO and actually report about its kababawan and katangahan. In fact at this point, given the questions from the MPC, it already behooves PCOO to APPROVE requests for accreditation from those critical of Duterte, because otherwise it would look like Andanar and Mocha are merely choosing pro-Duterte social media accounts and using them to counter reports from media and the MPC — which of course is the point of this whole exercise whether Andanar admits it or not.

If I were mainstream media I’d be thinking of stopping coverage of Malacañang altogether, because this an affront to the training and discipline that coverage requires, as it is an obvious offensive against media in general. US media did it to Spicer, seems time to do the same to Andanar.

While that has yet to happen though, I’m wondering who’s in the business of social media armies, because those are bound to earn some good cash ensuring at least 5,000 followers for various accounts, which would enable for more people to get accreditation.

I honestly can’t wait for this circus to get started. Imagine: access to the President and PCOO events, with no rules and no media ethics to care about. That’s giving the public front row seats to absolute kapalpakan and kalokohan!

Andanar won’t know what hit him. ***



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