This morning while watching the Today Show with Matt Lauer, I was surprised to see a segment in which Matt interviews Bode about an interview the night before with Christin Cooper in which she seems to be pushing for Bode to become emotional (see also “NBC asks Bode Miller to defend reporter“). My personal opinion was that she might as well have asked, “what do I need to do to get you to cry on camera” but that’s just my opinion, and that’s not what I am addressing here, nor the fact that I thought it was pathetic that Matt dragged Bode onto the show to help bail Christin and NBC out, rather than Christin handling it herself. Personally I think it is a credit to Bode’s character that he tried to help Christin from her Gaff, but Social Media will judge. ( graphics below are a snapshot of the Twitter-sphere the morning of 2/17/14 on one of my favorite tools for visualizing the “big picture” around a topic, Bottlenose) Notice the red/green dots representing negative/positive sentiment.
What I am fascinated by is the warning this sends forward to reporters with regards to Social Media. Sure Social Media is your friend, and a tool you can use in your job to connect with your audience, but it is also a fast track to the public’s pulse, and reaction on your choices that you make as a reporter. If you cross the line, whether intentional or not, you will see a reaction. This begs the question, will your likability and credibility in Social Media become part of your value? If a reporter offends the public in their style of questioning, will Social Media become your ticket out of a job, will this affect how reporters report the news, because they fear such backlash? We all know the news is about ratings and ad sales, with new advertising models in online content, will this continue? Social Media is like a wave in the ocean, and when a rogue wave comes your way, you better be ready. I don’t think it was a good decision to bring Bode on in the morning to help calm the waters, it may have made it worse by bringing it to the attention of everyone who missed the original interview.
I don’t believe Christin was being malicious, but I do believe the culture of reporting she has been indoctrinated into is failing, and the reaction to her interview is the “canary in the coal mine”. What’s the solution? good question, I’d be naive if I thought I knew a quick response to that. I believe reporters will need to consider the reactions to what they do and ask, just like any other brand on social media, because unlike complaint calls to the station, the public onslaught of attacks becomes news itself with the collective of Social Media reporting. At Head of Lettuce Media, we make it a point to remind those we coach and consult, don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t do in front of your parents, church or a crowded room of the general public. Would Christin have pushed on such a sensitive topic if she kept that in mind, who knows, as I have noticed some people will say things in front of others while other choose not to. I do believe she might not have pushed so hard if she saw the looks of disapproval from the room.
The moral of the story, “Measure twice cut once” meaning think about what you’re going to say, think of how others will perceive it,then ask if you are ok with it, and embrace the results. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, leave a comment.