Archive for September 5th, 2006

“Blink” and “Tipping Point” author Gladwell says time for NCAA to go

September 5, 2006

Interesting points raised by eminent author Malcolm Gladwell about why the NCAA needs to go. Also, very interesting discussion about this topic on the blog.

My interest is different. Will this attack by such a respected writer cause a reaction? Will it spill from hear to the MSM (mainstream media)? Will it cause a reaction on the part of the NCAA, and if so, how will they react? Will they admit that the example provided by Mr Gladwell does represent a problem–or will they defend their rules and their reason for existence?

Non-profit organizations and industry associations can easily forget why they exist. They are run by people who like their jobs and who want to keep their jobs. It is easy for them to stop going back and asking, “Now exactly why are we here again?” and “How do we justify our existence?”

Whether the NCAA understands this will largely determine their response, if they should decide to respond. That decision about whether they should or how they should is critical. And this is one that bedevils crisis managers:

It’s just a blog, let it die.

But it’s Malcom Gladwell–this is going to grow legs!

Why should we help Gladwell by giving it more legs?

It’s not a story unless it’s in the New York Times.

But the time it is there, opinions will have been formed and the horse will have left the barn.

So the question goes on: how do we head a bad story off without contributing to its distribution? Especially in the instant news/blog world where a story and accusations like this can gain momentum in hours. Look what I am doing here. Giving it legs.

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Bloggers and advertising–more thoughts

September 5, 2006

Will advertising destroy bloggers’ credibility? That question is raising some interesting comments. I know of one very strong critic of an organization who had a critic blog site, but then discovered the advertising dollars possible by trading on the name of the company he was criticizing. So he attempted to “remake” himself into a credible, objective non-critical blog that would serve as a forum for those who wanted to make pro and con comments about the company. One example of how the lure of advertising dollars can and will affect bloggers.

But James Bruni raises an interesting question about advertisers not spending money on blogs that are strongly left or right politically. I’m not so sure of that. In the pre-Civil war days, print publications were for the most part strongly aligned to one party or the other. We can’t imagine it right now, but what if our media did not pretend to be objective but clearly and unapologetically stated that they supported one party over the other–and everything they wrote about was from the point of view of persuading readers to their editorial position. While perhaps overstating it a bit, that is my understanding of the media pre-Civil War. It changed with AP, Associated Press. The idea was that they would pool the reporters who would provide the facts, then the individual papers would spin the facts the way they wanted and they way their particular audiences expected. They could save money and still report in a partisan manner. What happened is that they found readers rather liked the more objective “just the facts” approach provided by the straight ahead AP dispatches. And this style became dominant eventually.

Media historians, weigh in here. But my point is that there are many advertisers who would be happy to align in one direction or another–and many more who would prefer a more “objective” approach. Of course, talking about “objectivity” in today’s mainstream media is a whole other subject. At least there is the existing convention of presuming objectivity.