Missing the Social Media Mark

Recently I posted a comment to the Daily Triplicate under a photo they had posted to their FB page that was of a blaze in Lolo, Montana and not of Brookings as some folks were claiming. It should have been a secondary item as the Shaker Church in Smith River had jus’ burned down earlier in the morning.

“You post about this,” I wrote, “And nothing about the 1910 Indian Shaker Church blaze. WTH?”

After all with the Internet, interaction with subscribers and the fact that it is a big story for Del Norte County, posting a mention with a ‘tease’ saying ‘more in Thursday’s paper,’ isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.

However, the Triplicate’s editor, Robin Fornoff decided to be snotty by responding, “Suggest you buy Thursday’s paper for the front page story about the church fire.”

Obviously, he has no connection to the readers of her FB page because as I relied back, “Suggest? I live 400 miles away and this is about servicing your readers and not only paper sales. Geez!”

He assumes too much and it’s shown by his trite ‘suggestion,’ that the bottom-line is far more important than connecting with a readership that pays the bills. I don’t think this is a good way to run a business.

And the silliness kept on coming…

A few hours later, Fornoff responded, “It’s not about paper sales for us either. It takes time for reporters to gather information. Tony spent much of his day at the site of the church, talking to many folks affected and reaching out to fire and law enforcement folks about the fire.”

(I broke our comments down into bite-sized paragraphs, making it easier to read.)

“So what you have at the end of the day’s news cycle a few hours later is a complete, factual, vetted story about it all,” he continues. “We are not the LA Times or some other large organization with a bevy of folks to chose from.”

Fornoff concluded, “Often each dedicated member of our small staff is working on three or four stories a day, among them to significant wildfires that present a real and dangerous threat to thousands of people. The wildfires are the priority.”

He’s stuck in the ‘old school,’ of newspaper reporting, so I answered back, writing, “I understand. I’ve been in the biz for years myself. But you are doing yourself and your reader a disservice by having a social media presence and zero outreach/in-reach to keep them active in your reporting.”

“And while, wildfires are a priority — discrediting a photo is not newsworthy in itself, I added, “Losing a 107-year-old church on the other hand is newsworthy. It takes very little time to ask followers to submit photos to a FB site.”

As a lone-writer, with zero organization behind me, I managed to get people to share their pictures, both before and after the torching of the church. So there is no reason that Fornoff’s “small staff,” couldn’t do the same.

I suspect that’ll find myself ‘blocked’ from the Daily Triplicate’s FB page, but that is the price for trying open the eyes an organization that appears to be willfully blinding itself to its ‘extended resources,’ namely the folks the paper claims to serve.

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About Tom Darby

French-born, American-raised, U.S. citizen, husband, father, friend, veteran, and writer.
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