By now, everybody knows Mocha Uson has accepted the offer to be a columnist of Philippine Star.
By now, everybody must also know how Regina Belmonte, daughter of Philippine Star President Miguel Belmonte, feels about it.
That’s where the story should’ve ended: Regina posted her personal opinion on her personal Twitter account. Of course—she has the right to free speech.
But supporters of President Duterte seem to have forgotten this, or anytime anybody criticizes the President.
Excrement always hits the fan on anybody who airs an anti-Duterte opinion. These days, that equates to anything said or written against Mocha, too.
Since expressing her personal views, Belmonte has received a multitude of hateful comments from legions of pro-Duterte and pro-Mocha fans. “Hoy bruha! Hindi kailangan ni Mocha Uson yang basurang newspaper niyo! Tang*na mga kunwaring desente! Kala mo kung sino matalino!” Goes one comment on Twitter.
“Your just such an arrogant brat who wants publicity. Everybody knows sikat si mocha and you just wanna ride…poor girl,” goes another.
Surprisingly, the most mind-numbing comment given to Regina isn’t a personal attack or a suicide suggestion. It was a critique of her work as a beauty writer for the lifestyle section of the paper that came from Sass Rogando Sassot, another avid Duterte supporter who is slowly becoming as big a force on social media as Mocha Uson.
“All your articles from 2015-2016 got tweeted 132 times, shared on FB 277 times, and liked on FB 195 times. Take note: total na iyan ng lahat ng articles mo from 2015-2016,” Sass writes after collating the social media stats of Regina’s articles published on the Philippine Star from January 2015 to June 2016.
As though belittling those numbers, Sass then pulled a bitch of a kicker: “Who let you continue writing for Philippine Star given the horrendously poor performance of your articles? If you were not a Belmonte, girl, you would have been fired from the Philippine Star, and that space would have been given to people who could actually command a following.”
While Sass’s commentary makes a solid case, especially in the current climate of media, there is much to be said about its, erm, sense.
Because really, everybody must know that popularity and credibility are two different things. Just because one is popular doesn’t mean one is credible. The same when you flip the coin.
Witness: a netizen compared an article he wrote about informal settlers vis-a-vis an article an urban planner wrote about the same subject. “I wrote an article about informal settlers that was shared 13,000 times. A top urban planner’s piece on the same topic was shared 542 times. Guess who has more expertise and real-world experience?” Rico Mossessgeld wrote.
Besides, social media pull is not the only basis in judging an article’s performance. While yes, that is important, there are many other ways to determine a story’s success: the relevance of subject assigned to the writer, the angle by which it was written, the sources and resources used, and even meeting of deadline, just to name a few.
Any editor will tell you, a credible writer—one who is an expert on the subject—is first on his or her list of consideration. Someone who is enthusiastic of it and can command compelling copy and get hold of credible resource persons comes next. A diligent and competent writer who meets the set journalistic standards and respects deadlines is the last on the list, if they ever make it there. Always, the writer’s social media clout is bonus.
All this yackity-yack-yack-yack just to say: Lambasting the modest stats of Belmonte’s articles and comparing them to Mocha’s social media super stardom doesn’t lend any credibility to the new columnist. Mocha joining Philippine Star could help the paper’s popularity. But as for its credibility? That’s another story—one the entire industry is excited to see unfold.