Medicine Hat Media

Negativity Controversy

The now controversial fledgling segment of Friday Failure is now gone and dead.

Originally started as a way to add some localized humour to the site, it has has ruffled a few too many feathers in a negative way for Medicine Hat Media on behalf of myself. While I did receive some nasty emails about it personally, I also got some “laugh-backs” as well, but unfortunately the people that liked the humour aspect will have to look elsewhere, more specifically, just add some locals on Twitter to get your fix. I’m definitely interested in any opinions on the matter, especially on the following aspect, please read on:

This is actually a perfect tie in to a rant I was saving. It’s apparent to me that a lot of people think Medicine Hat Media is some type of organization or start-up business model. I’ve got questions asked to me like, “How much do you make off the site?” or “Who pays you for this?” when in fact, we are a non-profit website, and most importantly, a blog. Maybe there’s hope for something more in the future though. We are not professional writers or journalists, although we try our best to do a good job – most of you probably have spotted a grammatical error, a typo, or maybe 100 of them if you have been a reader for awhile. It’s a huge responsibility for us (talking on behalf of Sean and I) to maintain and write for the site, both having a full time and a part time job each. Fortunately we have some dedicated contributors helping us spread the news of local events, which is the core function of the site; for that, we thank you kindly.

Back to the topic at hand: Can negativity actually exist on this site when describing a local business, restaurant or otherwise? In the past it has brought us many of emails complaining, and rightfully so. These comments and reviews could in fact hurt these businesses because people do read this site. Although Medicine Hat Media started with great ambition and freedom, the freedom is… well not so much anymore. Our negative comments and reviews are saved and talked about among friends rather than posted here. If you find us being negative about something, it’s usually about a large corporation or a single criticism on top of a plenitude of positives.

It’s almost contradictory in a way, we have become biased to help protect our community and local businesses. Maybe that’s not bad? But what happens when a business does a bad job? Shouldn’t it be in our best interest, or even Medicine Hat’s best interest to reveal that? I’m personally torn on the matter because I want to support local business as much as possible, but I’m a huge proponent of freedom of speech, especially on the web.

The most recent example being the vandalized signs as featured as part of “Friday Fail”. I could wager a guess that if I blurred out any business references from the sign, we wouldn’t of got nearly as much criticism, or any at all. In fact, it was okay when some very prominent members from the community posted it on Twitter, but because of my above comment, people hold a higher standard for this site, the onus is on us to deliver what they want. Like I said, I’m very interested in what people think on the matter, please comment and share your opinions. Hopefully you managed to read through this, if you don’t care to comment, at least vote on the poll below to let us know.

Should we allow negative reviews or comments about local businesses and restaurants?

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User Comments

8 Responses to “Negativity Controversy”

  1. August 25th, 2009 at 4:41 PM

    travis says:

    This is a really tough problem, but at the same time a nice problem to have.

    On one hand you risk losing some of the readers that helped make the site what it is today. On the other hand if you can never give any constructive criticism you affect your honesty and integrity.

    Personally I think constructive criticism is important for businesses to hear and possibly take action on, it’s part of how ALL OF US improve and get better in life.

    It’s unfortunate people couldn’t see the humor in the Friday Fail but such is life I suppose.

    At any rate, you guys do a fantastic job on this site and as someone who runs several sites I completely understand what a tough, thankless job it can be. Especially when you do it at your own expense because its a labor of love.

  2. August 25th, 2009 at 5:32 PM

    DangerMouse says:

    I think there are reasons why credible publications usually refuse to run the “cold burger” story. ie) McGronald’s served me a cold burger…. I think its because:

    1) Its tough to verify those types of stories and if you are going to run them you better be sure you are right.

    2) Its picking on accidental outcomes not intentional

    In my OPINION #2 is where the decision would hang for me. If a company was campaigning for something in its best interest that came at taxpayer expense or they are INTENDING to do something that I perceive as having a potentially negative outcome. I think it is fair game, because it is affects us all.

    For example suppose a local sports team wanted tax payers to buy a new arena, or a developer wanted a land deal etc. (as examples …not real complaints currently 🙂

    Those to me seem like fair game for criticism if you honestly disagree with their position.

    If you are being negative about either an accidental outcome or a subjective one …i think you are on dangerous grounds …I did not read your controversial post. So just speaking in generalities and my view point.

    At Medhatblog I have waded into controversy myself. I admit the scale exists only in my head but to me its a valid blog story IF – our community is (in my opinion) better off for having considered this blog post.

    If it passes that litmus test, and I am interested in the topic …I usually publish it. The intention is always to better the community – not tear down a local business or even politician.

    /my humble opinion …hope that wasn’t stepping on your toes.

  3. August 25th, 2009 at 6:41 PM

    Dusty says:

    They key word is censorship which I, and hopefully many other people, do not agree with.

    Congratulations to the businesses that do well and get recognized for it. However, if something wrong, then I would like to be notified before I put myself into a situation I would rather not be in, and even then that notification might not affect my decision.

    Because it’s a combination between the posts and the comments, the negative views brought up should be in a respectful way. Comments that are obviously full of rage without restraint should be taken down.

    There is great effort being given to support our community, and respect to our community by delivering honest and accurate information and experiences.

  4. August 25th, 2009 at 9:48 PM

    Jenn Galloway says:

    As far as I know, this blog was originally started to inform Medicine Hat and area about local art & music shows, etc. and it has blossomed from there. Well done to you both for growing this site to be so successful, and also including so much more content than was originally intended.

    To have to censor yourselves, just because people who are reading may not agree is ridiculous. You have your right to your opinions, and what better place to discuss your opinions? What is a blog, if not a place to discuss – local business owners (I am sure) are more than welcome to join in on the conversation by commenting on something if they feel that they have been judged unfairly.

    However, (in my opinion) usually a complaint about a business should be seen as an incentive to that business to look deeper and see what they need to fix, review and change rather than taken as a personal stab.

    If a local business is not “up to snuff”, you have EVERY right to say so, it is after all only 1 (or 2) persons opinions, and people should, as adults, realize this.

    I am not torn about it at all – in my opinion you are still supporting local businesses by saying what they can improve on, you are supporting them by helping them! I have not read anything hateful or disrespectful from either of you (maybe I missed the hatred and disrespect), but I am sure that you would both be open to a “revisit” and update on an old review should changes and improvements be made!

    If things get out of hand in comments from readers, it may be in your best interests to remove the offending posts, but that should be left up to you, as the mediators of the site!

    I am not really sure that loosing readers that can’t appreciate what you are doing for the community is such a big loss.

    Thank you for everything that you do – for FREE for the community!

  5. August 25th, 2009 at 10:00 PM

    Dean says:

    I must object to the part of your article about your not being professional journalists or writers — the post I submitted re: CBC Radio 2 lacked clarity & interesting points. The resulting rewording done before the post was released to the public was MUCH improved, to your credit. Thanks for leaving my name on the post, and thanks to the ghostwriter(s) that made the post worth reading.
    In your role your must from time-to-time act as censors to prevent posts from reaching publication that would bring disrespect to your site, or possible lawsuits.
    I really enjoy your blend of topics and the opinions that are attracted to your site. Kudos to you for your work on enlightening all of us about snakeoil in the digital age (StoresOnline 2009).

  6. August 25th, 2009 at 10:42 PM

    Vaughn says:

    Thanks for everybody that has responded so far on this tough situation, I will be taking every word very seriously under my consideration.

    For the most part is looks like the bottom line is: Provide constructive criticism, don’t be disrespectful and above all, be helpful to the community in some way.

    @Dean – Haha, no problem, I was hoping you didn’t take offense when I re-worded your post a bit.

  7. August 26th, 2009 at 10:29 AM

    Mike says:

    If you’re commenting on a sign that was ‘vandalized’ in public. Let’s face it, a picture on a website isn’t going to have any more or less effect than the thousand cars that drove by it.

    If you were the ones that switched those letters and took a picture for your website, then you are very bad men which is not the case for you guys.

  8. August 26th, 2009 at 12:34 PM

    Sean says:

    I don’t feel like we are limited, I just feel if we are mentioning negative aspects in a critique, it has to be justified and in a professional-ish manner. Like when we had critiques in school, and people would only really say “I like it” or “That sucks”, it doesn’t help for improvement.

    I don’t want Medicine Hat Media to be the city’s source for only rants and raves.

    I am pretty impressed, as well, by the quick feedback by people.

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