03 November 2010

How NOT to be a neighborhood blogger

Back on September 14th, Jaime and I participated in the Social Media Club – DC's Social Media Breakfast. One of the things discussed was an advantage we bloggers have over other media sources—we can easily and quickly correct errors, in part because we don't have a bureaucratic structure with editors and the like. If we find something is wrong, whether on our own or through someone else pointing it out, we can deal with it swiftly. I went so far as to say that I felt that this was one of the most important things a hyper-local blogger can do. Accuracy is our stock in trade.

Ancillary to accuracy is an ability to work together with the community of other local bloggers. At the end of September, a new local blog, The Georgetown Dish, sent an email to a list of names that appeared to be cribbed from earlier emails sent out to the TBD Community Network. These are the blogs that work in concert with TBD.com to cover local news. Unfortunately, these people did not request to be placed on this mailing list.

Many complained to TBD and The Georgetown Dish regarding this conduct, and TBD quickly apologized by way of an email, letting Community Network members know that their names were not intentionally given to The Georgetown Dish. Beth Solomon, the publisher of The Georgetown Dish, sent only a weak non-apology, stating:

I did hear from our tech people that there was a mix up of lists -- I am really sorry and we will send out a note to the group shortly. Apologies again for the trouble and have a great day

If Ms. Solomon and her team ever sent out a "note" regarding this, we never received a copy. It would be interesting to see what she meant by a "mix up of lists" as well, as we should never have been on any unsolicited email list in the first place.

The Georgetown Dish hurt itself in the eyes of many in the local blogging community by taking advantage of our openness, not showing any humility when they were caught cheating the system, and then failing to follow-up in the end. All it would have taken was an emailed statement like, "You're right—we screwed up and shouldn't have done that. Our sincerest apologies and we promise we won't do it again." Instead, we got radio silence.

That's not what I'd expect from an honorable, respectable, or trustworthy news outlet, and it's not an auspicious way to make one's entry to the local blogging community.

(I realize it may seem curious why this is being brought up after a month. I intended to wait a week, see if anything was forthcoming, and then write about this. Things got very busy and the blog fell very low on the priority scale. That's why this and the previous post are bringing up things from a month ago.)

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