For those of you not familiar with who Mathew Ingram is suffice it to say he is one of Canada’s best bloggers in the tech/blogging/journalism field. Most recently however he has been spending less time blogging (which sucks) and more time as the Community Manager for The Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s national daily newspapers.
From what I understand part of his job is getting the old stick in the mud type editorial process and thinking dragged into the new social media world. It was in this capacity that Mathew found himself having to put into practice some of the basic tenets of social media and blogging after the Globe and Mail ran an editor’s blog post only to pull it.
The original post (you can read in full over at this blog which grabbed the post just after it appeared) was about search engine optimization which there had been an internal Globe & Mail workshop about. The post was written by their online Books editor and wasn’t overly kind about the whole thing, nor about the person who had given the workshop.
As Mathew writes about the experience over at the Neiman Journalism Lab blog
After someone noticed the post, it was quickly removed. When I found out about it, I said that I was troubled by that response, and that I felt we should say something about why it was taken down — especially since at least one blogger and several people on Twitter had noticed it was no longer online. The initial response, however, was to not say anything about the removal, with the rationale — one that I have heard many times in the past — being that a response from us would simply give the incident legs.
After some discussion with senior editors, we decided a response would be a good idea, and that I should write a blog post about why we removed it, include a comment from the editor of globeandmail.com, and then post a link to it at the blog that had mentioned the removal — all of which I did. In the post, I pointed out that we hadn’t removed the post because of Peter’s negative comments about SEO (as some suspected) but because the Books blog wasn’t an appropriate forum for that discussion. (The personal comments about an invited guest were also offside, I think.)
My argument was twofold. By not responding, I argued that we were ignoring a conversation in which we should be taking part. And by removing something without explaining why, I argued that we were effectively breaching our trust with readers, in however small a way. While an editor slamming his own organization might be damaging to our brand, I argued that the trust of our readers was also a key part of our brand, and that we had to do everything we could to maintain it. That, I think, is the fundamental purpose of being open and honest in the first place. Trust, as Craig Newmark has said, is “the new black.”
Nicely done Mathew and a big kudos to The Globe and Mail for being willing to walk the walk. Now if you would please stop with the partial RSS feeds I’d be an even happier camper.
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