One of my favorite things to watch is when businesses choose to ignore a technology or shift in human behavior, and honestly believe that if they ignore it well enough, it will simply go away.
We saw this in the music industry, where executives refused to believe that anyone would rather listen to thousands of songs on a device the size of a credit card rather than using a clunky cd player and devoting an entire wall for storing that same music.
The newspapers were no better, refusing to consider that carrying a dirty glob of paper with old news was less appealing than simply logging on to a computer and getting the freshest info.
This makes a story Garrett found even more humorous. The Chicago Sun Times has some sports columnists who occasionally draw the ire of their readers. Jay Mariotti is one such columnist. Apparently, people were responding to his articles in a negative way, so the Sun Times made the decision to stop allowing readers to comment on his columns. You can almost hear the conversation, "Well if we turn off the technology that allows readers to write negative things about Jay, then no one can write anything negative, and we won’t have to worry about it anymore. Problem solved!"
Except of course, that it’s 2008 and the world doesn’t work like that anymore. Maybe in 1970 that was a good idea. But nature abhors a vacuum, so if people want to write negative things about Jay Mariotti, and the Sun Times won’t let it happen on their site, the people will find a new home for their vents.
And they have, thanks to crosstown rival, the Chicago Tribune, who have geniusly embraced Social Media by developing a forum where readers can post comments about Jay Mariotti. And for that matter, other Sun Times writers.
And guess what, two giant ads on the page.
So, you have one paper pretending that taking away the voice of the people would be helpful. And you have a other that is profiting on the idea of letting people have their say. By foolishly thinking you can control the voice of the people, you lose all control of the situation, because now you can’t even moderate out the particularly distasteful ones. And your competitor gets the ad money.
Lesson to be learned here: No one has 100% approval rating. The only way to have any control of the situation is to let the people speak on your turf.