Wielding Absolute Power with the Delete Key
What was really unsettling about this week’s situation had been the fact that it has been marked by the total absence of conflict – in fact, the absence of any kind of reaction at all, apart from the use of the delete key – until a short time ago this morning.
So what happened?
On Wednesday afternoon just after 5pm, I picked up a mention of one of my clients in an online news article. However, the client’s name had been spelt incorrectly. I dropped a note to my client to let them know that there had been a nice mention in the media – and included the paragraph in which the company had been referenced. I also let my client know that I was going to send an email to the journalist asking to correct the spelling of the company’s name in the article.
I sent a short and pleasant email to the journalist on Thurday morning, asking for the correction – something I’ve done without issue numerous times before – and thought I’d get a quick note back to acknowledge. All pretty straightforward stuff.
By about 2:30pm on Thursday, I hadn’t heard anything back, and there had been no correction made to the spelling of the company’s name. I was starting to think that possibly the journalist was out of the office, on leave, or at a media event somewhere. At that point, I thought – “all I really need is a literal correction to the content” – so I forwarded the email to another journalist at the publication, who I knew was in the office, because I had been in touch with her earlier in the day.
That might have been where I made a mistake, because the next thing I saw was that the article had been changed but, rather than the company’s name corrected, it had been deleted altogether.
So, I sent another email to the journalist that afternoon:
I’ve seen that <client name> has now been completely removed from the article.
Was this just an oversight? – I hope in some way I haven’t offended anyone.
Still no response.
Finally, later in the afternoon I picked up the phone to try and speak to the journalist, but could only leave a message on his voicemail.
This morning, I finally got a response:
The story is about X and about Y. It has nothing to do with <client name – spelt incorrectly>…
If <client name – spelt incorrectly> has customers who can talk Y or some other topic of relevance to <publication>, great — let me know.
I replied – here’s the first part of my email:
The point was that <client name> was in the original article, which was only deleted when I asked for the spelling of the company’s name to be corrected.
I am completely at a loss as to why this has happened and, at the time of writing, I don’t expect I’ll get any further response.
Perhaps it might not have been so bad if I hadn’t already notified my client about the coverage – but I had. It’s just sobering to keep in mind the absolute power the media can wield with the delete key.