TechCrunch Writer Demonstrates How NOT to Engage Readers

Alexia Tsotsis’ highly unprofessional rants against “old media” and eventually her site’s own readers lead to a highly professional discussion amongst journalists about dealing with our critics on the web.

TechCrunch Writer Demonstrates How NOT to Engage Readers

Alexia Tsotsis' highly unprofessional rants against "old media" and eventually her site's own readers lead to a highly professional discussion amongst journalists about dealing with our critics on the web.

Storified by Mandy Jenkins · Tue, Jun 26 2012 23:32:09

TechCrunch writer Alexia Tsotsis claimed she downed a couple of bottles of wine before blogging an interview with Flipboard CEO Mike McCue regarding the app's paywalled partnership with The New York Times -- and it certainly seemed that way. Aside from using several choice words in a rant against the Times and newspapers in general, Tsotsis also served as her own cautionary tale as to how NOT to interact with your readers.
Exhibit #1 of how NOT to interact with your readers, via the mess that is this @techcrunch post http://tcrn.ch/LvRKno http://pic.twitter.com/NGttRdklMandy Jenkins
It isn't "refreshing" or "blunt" to tell a reader to "go F--- themselves", it's immature and you shouldn't be employed as a journalistMandy Jenkins
Predictably, many journalists and readers were shocked not only by the language of the post itself, but also the many comments by the author like that shown in the screenshot shared above. 
There's something to be said for a well executed, profanity-laden, you-are-all-assholes, middle-fingers up post. Tsotsis' post was not that.Brett Sandusky
A pretty arrogant resignation letter from Alexia Tsotsis: http://techcrunch.com/2012/06/25/die-less-slow/Alex Coley
@egorski @mjenkins Probably also not good practice to be working after "the downing of tonight’s two bottles of wine."Alicia Caldwell
@mjenkins Yikes. Yikes, yikes, yikes.Kevin Loker
@mjenkins that whole article is a trainwreck. I don't know what they were thinking.Adam Schweigert
@mjenkins I'd likely be fired if I did that. Temptation is high sometimes, but you have to be professional.Kim McDaniel
@mjenkins @techcrunch Don't know that I've ever been that drunk. I know I'm old school but some things you just don't do, no matter the urgePhilip Heron
Aside from all of our collective outrage (which I'm sure would have just set off Ms. Tsotsis), it did bring up a great discussion on Twitter about interacting with our critics. 
"Thanks for the feedback" is always safe. MT @mjenkins: How NOT to interact with your readers http://tcrn.ch/LvRKno http://pic.twitter.com/knG6XBuIEric Gorski
@mjenkins What do you do if a reader attacks your integrity, honesty & professional work, & insisting on calling your media org a "cult?"Alex Howard
@digiphile You certainly don't do that. I've heard some of the worst from readers - and that response is no excuseMandy Jenkins
@mjenkins Yes, I know. And agree. But deciding how to respond is difficult. One of the very few times I've ever devided to block someone.Alex Howard
@digiphile I've been threatened, insulted, feared for my safety...but you have to keep responses professional. Always. No matter what.Mandy Jenkins
Many of us have our own strategy as to how and how we react to criticism. Some remarks, particularly those from trolls that have no real intent aside from trying to cause hurt feelings, don't merit a response.  
@digiphile Been there. Depends on the tone whether a measured response is warranted or you just ignore it. @mjenkinsKim McDaniel
@tivogirl @digiphile Exactly! Some comments do not merit responseMandy Jenkins
@tivogirl @mjenkins I'm finally getting better at ignoring some comments, if warranted. It's not something that comes at all naturally to meAlex Howard
@digiphile @mjenkins Most of the time, those are the people you can't reason with, so why bother.Ruth Bazinet
@AnnaTarkov @mjenkins @tivogirl With limited time in the day and oh-so-many-good things to write & cover, choosing wisely is key.Alex Howard
@digiphile It is tough - you want to respond. But have to recognize when some ppl just want to vent or be jerks. Not worth it. @mjenkinsKim McDaniel
@digiphile Right. I engage critics initially to determine if there's hope for a civil debate. If there's not, I'm out. @mjenkins @tivogirlAnna Tarkov
@baznet @mjenkins For me, it's because some of time, it is worth bothering. And those relationships incrementally build over time.Alex Howard
@digiphile @mjenkins Totally understood. I hope that it's a fruitful engagement & the effort was worth it.Ruth Bazinet
To sum it up, the key is figuring out not only how to tell the ones that merit reaction from those that do not, but also how to tamper down your own high emotions in these situations.
Admit it, sometimes we'd all like to tell our readers to shove it...but we can't. And we won't. Take a deep breath. Take a walk. Take a day if need be... then respond.

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