Tag Archives: marketing

Lauren Maschmedt at work

The worthlessness of “digging deeper”

One morning. I stayed off Twitter for a one morning, and this is what happens?

The Chronicle’s Assistant Managing Editor Ted Sullivan tweeted his amusement and frustration at NBC Montana’s Lauren Maschmedt for her falling prey to that TV news stable: B-roll that shows the reporter herself doing something mundane.

It snowballed a bit from there.

Maschmedt eventually responded with sarcasm and veiled charges of bullying.

Bullying might be too strong a word, but there is definite mockery there. It’s certainly not fun to be the brunt of a Twitter conversation questioning the job that you’ve done — especially when one of the people joining in is a fellow TV newser.

And, admittedly, some of the non-Maschmedt tweets are a bit cavalier and maybe unprofessional. I’ll chalk that attitude up to a passion to see the job of journalism done well, no matter who is doing it.

Yet the criticism of NBC Montana’s story is deserved.

The story in question is about the FBI filing charges against Bozeman escapee Kevin A. Briggs. Maschmedt’s voiceover carries us through all the facts, but the video accompanying it shows us close-ups of the federal documents too close up for us to really read anything in them, shots of Maschmedt sitting at a table in a darkened room reading those documents, a close-up of her hand taking notes on a legal pad, on her eyes scanning the lines of text.

Shots of a reporter “digging deeper” into documents have no place in a news story. They aren’t telling the public anything important. Instead, those valuable airtime seconds are marketing the reporter and the news station.

“See? See? Look how much work we are doing to inform you, viewers. The work is so important, watch some of it being reenacted while my voiceover tells you what I found.”

I do see. I see you doing your job, plain and simple. But the work of journalism isn’t news; the results are news. And those results are what we need to be giving viewers and readers, not self-aggrandizing B-roll.

A parallel is to be found in a recent post from journalism professor and blogger Jeff Jarvis, who is somewhere in the middle of a series on rethinking TV news. Jarvis’ post targets the stand-up (where a reporter simply stands in front of the camera at some location and says things into the camera).

The stand-up has zero journalistic value. It wastes time. It wastes precious reportorial resource. It turns the world into a mere backdrop for entertainment. It’s a fake.

The B-roll shots of the reporter walking in to a public building or flipping through file drawers are just as big wastes of time.

Sometimes we get stuck in the form of news and forget that the first mission is to deliver the facts. TV reporters have to fill airtime, and they are taught to fill it with something other than them just sitting there reading the news. It’s a convention — just like the one that we face at the newspaper when we have to have one story with “main art” on the section front pages — even if that means covering less-than-impactful feature stories.

But to keep our work relevant, we have to remember that conventions are not set in stone, and that if there’s a better way to tell people the news efficiently, we should take advantage of it. Our audiences will appreciate it.

And snarky journalists won’t make fun of you for it.

Montana tourism facebook posting

UPDATED: Social media manager seems to quit job very publicly on Montana state tourism Facebook page

Sometime early this morning, a post appearing to be from a disgruntled social media marketer went public on the state of Montana’s tourism page on Facebook.

Around 2:30 or 3:30 this morning, the following message went out to the page’s roughly 150,000 followers:

F this job. I just want to live in Whitefish with my future husband. Leaving Bozeman for good tomorrow [...] Thanks for the good times MercuryCSC!

MercuryCSC is an advertising agency based in Bozeman and San Francisco. Outside magazine this year named the company one of the 30 best places to work.

The company lists its work with the state’s tourism office as one of its case studies. “Mercury’s work for the Montana Office of Tourism has been widely recognized as some of the most effective and innovative tourism marketing in the nation,” the Web page says. There’s a video touting the success of the campaign on Vimeo.

The posting has since been deleted, to the chagrin of entertained followers, if the “posts by others” on the Facebook page are to be believed.

The posting does live on in screenshots and on Reddit.

Sarah Lawlor, spokeswoman for the tourism office, said the state office works closely with Mercury in its social media strategy, so Mercury employees do have administrative rights to the Facebook page.

“They usually run everything they will post through us first,” Lawlor said.

“It was a personal error by this person, and once they realized this error, we removed the post,” she said. “Obviously, it wasn’t content intended for our Facebook audience.”

The Office of Tourism will post an explantory statement to its page today.

Lawlor said it was too soon to tell whether the incident would affect the office’s relationship with Mercury.

“We’re going to have to have that discussion internally,” she said. “We haven’t had a chance to do that yet, but there will certainly be some review.”

MacLaren Latta at MercuryCSC said she could not discuss the matter since was a personnel issue. She also could not say whether the person in question was still with the company.

Update: MercuryCSC has released a statement about the incident, noting that it is no longer doing social media work for the state’s tourism office.

At approximately 2:15 a.m. on Friday, December 7, 2012, an employee of MercuryCSC made a mistake and posted unprofessional personal comments as ”Montana” to the Montana Facebook page.

As soon as the post was discovered, it was removed. However, images of the post were distributed throughout social media and news channels causing confusion and speculation about the source and the nature of the post.

MercuryCSC no longer has administrative rights to the Montana Facebook page, and MercuryCSC is no longer performing social media work for the Montana Office of Tourism.

MercuryCSC accepts responsibility for and is actively working with the Montana Office of Tourism to address the situation.

MercuryCSC regrets this chain of events. We apologize to our client and the state of Montana for this issue.

As it is a personnel matter, we are not able to make additional comments.