Guy Faux Week
Quite a few blogs have covered the story of Guy Goma, the Congolese data support expert who was mistakenly interviewed on the BBC’s News 24 last week.
If you don’t know the story by now, Mr Goma went to the BBC for a job interview. He shared the same ﬁrst name as the news channel’s guest, Guy Kewney (whose blog entry about this incident is here), and was taken on air, where he had to answer questions about the Apple Corps v. Apple Computer contract case. He did so admirably, but then, being in the computer ﬁeld himself, he was not totally ignorant about the phenomenon of online music.
Comments have been favourable toward Mr Goma. He maintained the air of an expert, which led many to think that experts on the news these days can look authoritative without being so. A few others have said that news has become so insigniﬁcant that trivia pass for it.
Initially, Goma was wrongly identiﬁed as a ‘cab driver’—something which I originally found insulting. Was it because he was black, or did the ‘cab driver’ angle make the BBC’s blunder more serious? Or does this make an assumption that cab drivers are stupid—when in fact, anyone who can memorize London’s maze of streets is a certiﬁable genius?
When I asked the race question on one blog, I was told that most of London’s cabbies are native and indigenous—and that is certainly the case when I visit the city. I can only assume that the incorrect title came up via a game of 以訛傳訛 (it ain’t ‘Chinese whispers’ where I come from) via email and then reported as fact, notably by the Daily Mail.
The original mistake I can understand; however, the subsequent goof seems like a case of the pot calling the kettle black. At least the BBC exposed its own error, rather than hide behind false press statements. This was an innocent mistake to which Mr Goma himself apparently contributed by raising his hand when Guy Kewney was called. It can happen. It is less of a blunder than the intentional reporting of falsehoods.
But I was interested to read that TV news can fool us into thinking the talking head is an expert. I never saw myself on the prime-time TV One network news on March 12, but a lot of people talked about it. Some people thought they saw me on a rival network because they were predisposed into thinking that TV3 offered superior news. And through the years, I had been quoted in non-televised media (CNN.com, The Daily Telegraph, and elsewhere), but for some reason, television does elevate you.
Mr Goma has become a phenomenon within and without the blogosphere, appearing on other TV show interviews (on Channel 4, ITV and the BBC itself), while I imagine Mr Kewney’s web publications have beneﬁted hugely from the blunder. The mistake has generated fame for two men, another topic for media studies’ classes around the world.
I don’t expect TV news to change drastically overnight, but if people are questioning the relevance of the medium, as the Goma interview exposed, will it begin to suffer the same fate as newspapers? After all, if we can get news directly from the people in the relevant neighbourhoods or specialist areas, and video cameras are becoming more widespread, then surely videologs of news will be a commonplace thing by the end of the decade?
Del.icio.us tags: BBC Guy Goma news TV news tv newsmedia media blogosphere fame newspapers race authority blooper expert expertise perception Posted by Jack Yan, 07:19
I think he did pretty well considering the tv station made a mistake. I wonder if I'd do just as well in a case of mistaken identity.
He was also mentally prepared because he was going for a job interview, and thought the TV one was the real thing. I imagine for the rest of us we would say, ‘You’ve got the wrong person,’ from the outset and not know it was live.
It's just a real pity that in the end he didn't get the job. I think after that performance I would have hired him on the spot :D
That’s a shame: I didn’t know he missed out. Well, let’s hope he has made a few extra bob through his TV guest appearances! Mr Goma is running at 103,000 Google references, which puts a lot of us to shame—that exceeds Charlotte Dawson by over 200 per cent.
# posted by Anonymous: 5/25/2006 01:32:00 AM
Ahhh yeah. This guy was great, the ultimate "Fake it 'til ya make it" moment.
# posted by Dan Gordon: 5/26/2006 10:38:00 AM
Britain is planning to deport him, so poor Guy Goma may not benefit from his new fame:
# posted by Anonymous: 5/26/2006 08:55:00 PM
At a guess, I would say his Google references would be falling now …
Apparently, Mr Goma’s visa was sorted three years ago, reports guygoma.com, and he was not at risk of deportation.Post a Comment
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