Saturday 21 September 2019

The dangers of having an 'online presence'

The danger of journalism via social media is the presence of trolls and keyboard warriors
The danger of journalism via social media is the presence of trolls and keyboard warriors

Daniel Gorman - Weird Wide World of Sport

It has been a busy week on social media for yours truly. The idea of having a social media presence for our newspapers is to further boost our coverage and to give us a chance to interact with our readers more.

Sometimes this will work brilliantly, sometimes it will not. You can't please all of the people all of the time and we understand that completely. Here is an extract from a previous column I penned:

'A few weeks ago in this award winning column (all in good time, my friends), I spoke about banter. What it is and what it isn't. Banter is another thing you have to endure in this job. If I had a euro for every time a player looked over at me and shouted "stick me down for man of the match there", well, let's just say I wouldn't need a second job.

'Upping the banter stakes, we then have stick. I receive stick on nights out from slightly inebriated players who are flirting between having a laugh and unleashing some demons. "You said I played s***e when you watched me the last time you saw me!" A quick smile normally evokes a bear hug and some friendly/heavy petting from the aggrieved sportsperson.

'Then, further up the road, we have abuse. This is reserved for social media and it is from a band of people called keyboard warriors. A genuine e-mail or phone call to me airing their grievances could help me to improve my reporting and also help them to understand my job more, but instead they prefer to opt for the name-calling and cursing and general abusing on Facebook or Twitter. All this achieves is amusing me for a while. In all seriousness though, if/when I do or say something that you have a major issue with, ring me and discuss it with me or e-mail me and we can get to the bottom of it. Or you can just call me a big eejit who knows nothing. It wouldn't be far from the truth.'

This sprang to my mind a few times this week. I mean every word I say in it. I won't pretend for a minute that every reader will be a fan of me. There is no way in hell that I can keep everyone happy week in, week out. Some weeks people will be irked by me, some weeks they'll be pissed off with me and some weeks they'll want to wring my neck.

The thing is, we all want the same thing. You want to see the best coverage possible and we want to provide it. Nobody's perfect, it won't always be flawless. There'll be mistakes, there'll be differences of opinion. That's inevitable.

I hate making mistakes. You hate reading them. But we all want the same thing so why not all jump in the same boat and head there together? A collection of people have put their cards on the table recently and declared themselves unhappy or dissatisfied with my work. But instead of offering a solution or offering insight, they've just insulted me and left it at that. Who is that helping?

I want to do the best that I can and if you aren't happy about something, tell me! How else can I improve? If one of your players is underperforming, you address the matter. You don't just slaughter him and expect him to improve. You'll sit him down and tell him to work on his control or his tackling or whatever the issue may be.

If I make a basic error like misspelling a name etc., then I apologise. That's just basic human error and it's bound to happen from time to time but if you have a major grievance with my work, tell me. There's no point telling your wife or your team-mates or whoever it may be; tell me! That way I can take it on board and try to improve.

Nobody's perfect and I'm certainly no different but with constructive criticism I could improve and we could all be happier. Leave the bitching to the Dáil. I want to produce high-quality coverage, you want to read high-quality coverage. Put our heads together instead of rutting them and we might just make it.

Wexford People

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