Sunday, March 19, 2006

Rightwinger's column loses syndication

Rightwing columnist Adele Ferguson has lost her syndication with the Kitsap Penisula Business Journal. The receptionist from the KPBJ had left a message on my voice mail late Friday that the column had been removed by the Editor. I was planning to follow up on Monday to get more indepth information.

But in the blogosphere if you snooze, you lose. Darryl at Hominid Views beat me to it:

What impact did all this have? The editor at the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal got some emails. And then he got more emails…and then even more email. He got email and emails and emails and emails. At least 1,500 emails arrived within a few days. And, who knows how many phone calls he fielded.

The emails and phone calls worked. By 9:00 pm Wednesday night, the online version of the article was pulled. I immediately posted a scanned print version and Goldy posted a pdf of the online version.

But that wasn’t the end of it. As I learned through the editor’s reply to a letter from Linny Harris (thanks Linny for posting the letter!) the calls and emails helped the editor make another important decision:

Had we not been contractually obligated to run that column unedited, do you think for one minute we would have? Why would I intentionally want to subject myself to 1500+ hateful emails from all over the world, sully my own personal reputation, as well as that of the paper I’ve spent 20 years of my life building? That’s a no-win for me.

A couple of interesting oddities about all this though. While this hit the liberal blogs - which is where the bulk of the responses came from, we have had less than 10 responses from local readers who actually received the print edition. As an editor and publisher, this tells me the readership of her column is extremely low and offers the perfect justification to discontinue it - which I will do when the contract with the syndicator is up—which is just shortly. I’ll also be MUCH more diligent when dealing with future editorial contracts.

This proves again that the blogosphere isn't really about changing minds via the blogs. Its about forcing the media to report things and to take responsibility for itself. The regular media readership/viewership is vastly larger than anything in the blogosphere. Diligence and oversight by bloggers helps push the media to do the right thing.