So my good buddy and Avs Hockey Podcast partner Jay found a special treat today: he was blocked by Denver Post reporter / blogger Adrian Dater. For Avs fans, Dater is two things, necessary and polarizing.
The necessity of Dater is due mainly to a lack of a second newspaper in Denver (the Rocky Mountain News went out of business a few years back, and nothing has picked up the slack), and the Colorado Avalanche’s lack of a blogger policy, other than ignoring that independent media even exists. For better or for worse, Adrian Dater is the only voice of the Avalanche in the mainstream media. He’s the only one asking questions, and the only one around. You may want to bring up Terry Frei, but Frei isn’t the primary source of news for Avalanche fans. Dater is the guy who is the voice of the MSM Avalanche news.
The polarizing side of Dater comes from his personality, and how it injects itself into his work. Everyone has a bias, and no matter how hard they may try to keep it out of their work. Dater brings a lot of personality to his work, and sometimes that personality is negative and confrontational. His job has changed since he started blogging, and he stopped being a pure beat writer (who are supposed to, by popular opinion, leave their opinions out of their reporting).
So you see the problem when Dater gets his notebook in a bunch and starts blocking people on twitter, a medium he and the Denver Post use to break news on. Blocking people on twitter is essentially denying the news in a medium that the source has chosen to utilize. Or choosing who gets easy access to that news, and who doesn’t.
I have an unrefined block policy. It was based on this article by Derek Powazek. If you use twitter (and who doesn’t) or other social media, it’s a good read, and worth considering. While Derek has a one strike policy, I am much closer to two strikes. If someone is a dink, I will brush it off. If they do it again, I don’t want to waste my time with it, so I block them. I have blocked people I generally like and appreciate due to the interactions we have had on twitter. It’s unfortunate, but twitter doesn’t give me a better tool. If I had my choice, I would be able to remove the ability to receive @ replies from someone, but allow them to read my tweets. If they remove me, that’s up to them. After that, then block would be a secondary choice.
I can understand part of where Dater is coming from. I don’t want to deal with the slew of crap I get at times on twitter, as that isn’t my personality. I don’t lash out the way some people like doing. I have better things to do in my life than deal with that. And so does Dater. He has a job to do, and he needs to do it, not have to defend every single thing he says to each individual that takes exception (even if he baits and deserves some of it). Unfortunately, Dater’s position and the way he uses his twitter account as a news outlet brushes up against the way he also uses that account to interact with his readership. Adrian Dater has a few issues and poor behavior on twitter. When you block someone, calling them names is pointless and rude, for instance. A style guide would be helpful for him, like this one.
But there is a certain contract that is entered into when you sign on with social media. The street is now a two way street, and you are no longer a broadcast outlet, with a readership that no longer has a voice or access. You open yourself up to interaction. If you choose to interact, you can’t expect that everyone will use social media in the same way you do. How does that contract change when the news media signs up for an interactive medium?
Social media and the news is still being sorted out. Twitter is an imperfect medium that has the major benefit of it’s immediacy and it’s interactivity. Most news organizations take a careful look at their social media usage, and generate a policy around it, including an ethics policy. Whether those policies are enforced or not may vary. Hopefully, Dater has considered his twitter policy, and is consistent in the way he uses it. Hopefully you have as well. Think about it.