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This post is more of a transcript of a conversation that started on Facebook late last night and ended with a phone call earlier today.
I asked friend and former colleague Rod Overton about his job search and whether or not anything was in the hopper. He’s been out of a job since June and I’d been seeing a lot of his comments on the blog LostRemote. My question opened the door for a really good chat.

He answered with this:

“The real problem now is that media companies simply don’t want the truth or common sense. Sizzle, pizzaz and not examining what is not working (and then cutting that) is what they want (sorry for the double negative, but you get the point — they don’t want anyone to look behind the curtain or say the emperor has no clothes.)”

I then asked Rod to tell me more and indicated that I was interested in posting some of what he was writing on my blog. He was happy to oblige:

“The common thread to most of my messages on Lostremote is that during this upheaval (TRB bankruptcy, Belo bankruptcy and McClatchy at 73 cents) publishers and editors (and to an extent TV GMs) are not taking advantage of the environment to make (what is to them) serious changes.

Instead they seem to hope to skate through it as unchanged as possible not realizing that the situation itself is showing them they need to change.
A selfish case-in-point: Someone with my skills goes unhired while people with skills that are quite easy to come by are retained and — in some pathetic cases — shifted to new media roles they will ruin just as the legacy product was ruined.”

Still with me? There’s more.

I called Rod this morning and we spoke a bit more about some of this. He told me some stories about his interviewing experiences and organizations so resistant to change I thought I was sitting in 1987. I knew it was true though because one of the most profound statements he made was this:

Newspapers are stuck on a singular solution!

He says no one wants to overhaul everything and create systemic change.
What he’s referring to is initiatives like writing shorter stories, or adding more color to the front page or including more photos and a digest of what else can be found inside.

Short-sighted solutions that tackle maybe one issue that are seen as the one solution that will change things for the better.

What are your thoughts on this? Are any other organizations or industries focusing on a singular solution? And is the emperor wearing anything at all? What do you think of Rod’s rant?

Thanks Rod, for the interesting conversation. And I hope you find something soon.

*If you’d like to connect with Rod, you can find him on Facebook and LinkedIn


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That is the question I was asked by my boss today.

“I’d love to,” I say enthusiastically and practically giddy. “Will they understand me?”

“If not, we’ll get an interpreter.”

“Sold.”

So, I will be speaking to a group of bloggers from Egypt next week, thanks to a relationship my boss has with the UNC School of Journalism. He once worked there and the dean reached out to him for this particular endeavor.

The point? I’m blogging about this because it underscores my passion for what I do. I thoroughly enjoy my line of work and talking about it excites me. I’m able to get others excited about social media and there are many bloggers who do the same for me on a daily basis. If you’re reading this, you’re likely one of them. Thank you.

Are the ups and downs of managing user-generated content, managing online communities and dealing with the unknown a force to be reckoned with. Absolutely. Just read my recent post about community-management related stress. (Hmmm, did I just coin a new acronym? CMRS disorder?)

But these ups and downs also build character I’m learning. And those of us doing this today will be a great help to those of us doing it tomorrow.

So, Egyptian bloggers prepare for an earful.

It’s no secret that I am passionate about user comments on news stories. I am an advocate for user-generated content and building online communities. I take every opportunity I find to comment on blogs about comments.

I believe I will continue to do that for quite some time. At least five years. Well, maybe two. We’ll just have to see what happens after that. In an ideal world, most news organizations will have realized that they need to embrace comments and hire the staff to manage them by then. If that happens, I will have to find another soap box, but that’s okay. I’m sure I will.

Providing the community with a platform is the ultimate community service, in my opinion, and it’s an important and highly valuable service. It just has to be managed. Set your expectations ans uphold them. Create a community standard! It’s not that hard.

So if you see a post about comments, or you write a post about comments within the next two years, send me the URL so I can add my two-cents. Or, just leave it in the comments area below.

There is a great deal of talk about user-submitted comments on news stories taking place all over the blogosphere. Some say nix them, like that Gawker piece that annoyed me to no end. Others say don’t. Some say they are of immense value, and I tend to agree.

People want to share their thoughts and engage with others. That’s what this social media thing is about right? So how can you actively promote social media, and the benefits of starting a dialog, or consider yourself any kind of “community servant” and discount user-comments? Think about it.
It just doesn’t make sense.

I’ve seen some of the most intricate, thought-provoking comments on news stories. I’ve seen exchanges between the community that command attention and that would easily stand alone as an individual blog.
On the flip side, I’ve also seen some of the most unbelievably crude comments riddled with so much hate that it made my skin crawl.
So the answer is this. If you value comments, as you should…KEEP THEM.
But clean them up.
This is an area that newspapers or any news organization can easily get a handle on.
Hire moderators. Elevate the conversation and show the community that you want to provide an outlet and positive experience.
Maybe it’s me, but this really isn’t rocket science. It’s simply innovation.

Managing user-generated content can be tough, and weeding through it looking for the best can be a daunting task. But maybe that’s not your issue. Maybe it’s integration and getting the traditionalists to get on board. Do tell. What’s your biggest issue?

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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.

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