Taming one’s inner incivility

July 31, 2015

Taming one’s inner incivility

I have been really bad about blogging. I was on vacation and then returned to a week of chaotic and intense report writing and analysis. I barely know what the weather was this past week but I have a reprieve right now and am excited to get back to blogging. If that is what floats my boat, so be it. I am truly excited to be back.

I saved an article I read over the past 10 days about the blow up at media and pop culture guide Gawker. If you do not know what happened, it’s fairly simple. Several editors resigned due to the retraction of a post which outed an executive at a well-known publishing company. Gawker’s CEO Nick Denton made the decision to pull the article and as you can imagine, there was plenty of criticism about his decision in addition to posting the article in the first place.

Denton has decided to change the reputation of Gawker from a no-holds bar controversial publication for young, urban influential hipsters to one that even he has said has some “humanity” at its core. In fact, Denton has said that he expects Gawker to be “20% nicer.” Assume that means the 80% mean stays the same. In an article in PRWeek, Denton was interviewed about his change of heart about Gawker’s typically scandalizing content. When Denton was asked how he was managing the company’s reputation in light of the situation, he said:

“My memos all leak within minutes, so I write them for external as well as internal audiences. Our all-hands meetings are open to the world. Transcripts get out. Tuesday’s meeting was live-tweeted.

I believe every modern company will need to free its staff to make public criticism, even if that’s uncomfortable. Without open internal discussion – civil enough to include the digital introverts, too – there’s no possibility of evolution as an organization. A learning organization is necessarily messy to the outside world.”

They are on the look-out for a more “humane” editor and now have a temporary editor in charge. However, quite a job qualification but one way to shape reputation in this lawless world. Of course, the proof is to be seen how Gawker tames its inner incivility and adds more civility into its coverage. How do you measure something like that? Would be fun to ask readers to do the rating to see if they make progress. But as the new editor said, he’s hoping to have a peaceful, restful remainder of the summer. Probably should leave them alone for August.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

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