I’ve had an email conversation with TMZARK’s news director, Austin Kellerman, and he confirmed that he had spoken with Arkansas Business about his organization’s newly adopted social media policies–the ones where they use pictures of dead & injured people for self-glorification. But Kellerman declined to answer any of my questions.
Now Kellerman’s comments to AB have been published, and here’s what we have learned:
1. TMZARK has heard me, they just don’t care.
From the article:
“I don’t think it’s fair for people to say we’re benefiting from it in any way,” Kellerman told Outtakes in an email. “This doesn’t help us grow our base or gain new fans…We’re simply giving an opportunity to people who already like our page to express themselves.”
And as AB’s Kate Knable correctly points out, that statement is not exactly true, regardless of Kellerman’s intentions. We have documented how TMZARK is benefiting from their strategy. Sorry you don’t think it’s fair, dude, but it is what it is.d
2. Kellerman is actually the one making these posts!
Seeing as how he is the news director, that probably explains why he hasn’t been fired.
“I posted a story on our Facebook page about a state trooper being shot outside of Hope. I was amazed by the response from people wishing him well in his recovery and sending their thoughts and prayers,” Kellerman said.
I’m so happy he amazed himself. Are the families of the deceased impressed?
3. “Kellerman doesn’t see the need to ensure that clicked thoughts and prayers reach the parties for whom they were intended.”
“In this day and age, I have no doubt friends and family of those involved will inform them about all the support they’ve received online,” he said.
Summary: this is all about supporting the families, but we don’t really care if they actually see the support.
Kellerman’s comments essentially confirm all of my suspicions about TMZARK: they don’t really care about the insensitivity or the people they’re hurting.
Don’t believe me? Think about it like this: the main goal is to ‘support the families,’ but nothing is done to let the families know about the ‘support & prayers?’ Because in the middle of their grief, the first thing a suffering family wants to do is wander out to TMZARK’s Facebook page and see a picture of their deceased loved one with 4,000 ‘likes,’ right?
I think if Kellerman were to be completely honest with us, he would admit that he’s not being completely honest with us or that he lacks a basic understanding of how social media works. Either way, for your sake, I sincerely hope none of your family members tragically die and you’re subjected to TMZARK’s compassion.
You might think the biggest news in Arkansas tonight is the firing of Razorback football coach Bobby Petrino. You are half correct. The real story is KARK’s continuance of their awesome social media strategy–using unfortunate, even tragic circumstances to solicit attention to themselves.
Tonight, Petrino was the victim of KARK’s ‘strategy.’ They posted the following on their Facebook page:
Not exactly a flattering pic, nor appropriate timing/situation to participate in this type of self-promotion.
(If you do not understand how KARK is benefiting from this, please read this story.)
They also tweeted this picture of Petrino & another picture of UA Athletic Director Jeff Long separately, asking fans to retweet the picture of Long if they wanted to see Petrino go or retweet the photo of Petrino if they thought he should’ve stayed.
Which is kind of funny because not too long before this happened, I tweeted:
Promotional idea for
@KARKNews: post a pic of a moving van in front of Petrino’s house, then ask people to RT as prayers!
Look, I don’t want my friends at KARK to start thinking I don’t like them or that I’m picking on them. (I also don’t want to continue to play into their hands by giving their social media accounts all of this free publicity) But this is just too easy, too petty to ignore.
The state is reeling right now. Hogs fans are very uncertain of the future and there are certainly mixed emotions about the Petrino firing.
GIVE IT A REST, PEOPLE.
A few media outlets have picked up on my story from last week about KARK’s grossly insensitive use of the death of 4-year old Caleb Linn to bring attention to their social media accounts.
One story was posted on Monday by Arkansas Business. It was also in their print edition this week.
After reporting the discovery of Linn’s body, KARK posted the following message on its Facebook website: “Click ‘like’ below to send your prayers to the family of Caleb Linn during this difficult time. You may also leave condolence messages below.”
The Facebook post suggests rather boldly that a click on the TV station’s social media page not only is the same as a prayer, but is also a way to send that prayer to a bereaved family at a site more than 140 miles from KARK’s office.
Very well said by AB’s Kate Knable.
A local blog, Arkansas TV News Watch, also picked up the story.
I had been considering making some follow-up comments and now that the story has gained some more attention, it seems it is appropriate to do so.
After my original post about KARK’s use of Caleb Linn’s death, I had a few questions from our readers about why I was so upset about this: ”What is KARK gaining by asking for people to share the story and pray?” I had a few more questions after KARK’s second offense regarding Coach Bobby Petrino earlier this week. So it occurred to me that everyone may not be aware of exactly how some of these social media functions work. Let me attempt to explain.
First, Facebook: When KARK asked people to ‘like’ and comment on their post about Linn’s death, they were asking for much more than the click of a button and a few words of sympathy. Depending on your Facebook settings and the settings of your friends’ accounts, your ‘likes’ and comments will most likely appear in your friends’ tickers & possibly even on their newsfeeds. So every time someone responds to the post, a few hundred of your Facebook friends see it and, ideally, flock to KARK’s page. It’s called free advertising. It’s why business & organizations use social media.
Now, let me explain the implications for Twitter: KARK was asking for ‘retweets’ of this story from their Twitter account. Retweets are a process by which Twitter users click a button and redistribute another user’s update to all of their friends/followers. So in this situation, users would ‘retweet’ KARK’s post and it would be sent out to anyone who follows that user. It would include KARK’s name and, ideally, KARK would gain followers from the redistribution of the tweet. It also served to drive traffic to KARK’s website. More free advertising, hidden under the guise of ‘prayer.’ (which is another problem within itself–abusing the concept of prayer)
So I hope now that those of you who are not as social media savvy can see more of a complete picture. I apologize for not explaining this further on the front-end of this story. Sometimes I assume that everyone is as zombified by social media as I am.
Now you can see that the insensitivity runs much deeper than the semantical awkwardness of asking someone to ‘like’ a story about the death of a child–even though that in itself is plenty offensive. KARK is receiving a real benefit for what they are doing. Regardless of their motives, in reality, they are using the death of a 4-year old child for self-promotion. It’s exploitation and it’s disgusting.
Arkansas Business also reported that they have contacted the GM of KARK for comment on this situation. If they respond, we will have the full statement here.
I got to visit with State Rep. Mark Biviano on Thursday morning for a few minutes, after news broke Wednesday afternoon that the Governor’s budget was moving to the floor of the House without the $21 million in cuts that the GOP leader had proposed. I had hoped to post these comments sooner, while they were fresh, but I’ve been busy. Life happens.
I asked Rep. Biviano to fill us in about what happened Wednesday and where we go from here. He clarified that the budget itself has not actually passed, just a resolution to move the budget bill to the floor. This could not have happened without some Republican support, but now that it has moved to the floor, Republicans cannot stop its passage. Only a simple majority will be needed to send it to the governor’s desk. Biviano predicted the budget will pass with little changes to its current form.
But Biviano said the real story here is the Democrats’ unwillingness to slow the growth government.
The real story is that there’s an unwillingness in the Democrat Party to slow government growth. They’ve characterized our plan as ‘massive cuts with massive layoffs.’ In fact, the Governor’s plan grows government by $163 million. Our plan only grew it by $142 million.
Biviano also said Democrats in Little Rock have proven to be unwilling to compromise and look ahead at the imminent Medicaid crisis.
We’re going to have a Medicaid crisis next year. Republicans were trying to be proactive and look down the road. We asked to slow the growth of the budget by .45%. The Democrats want to continue to grow government but not address these challenges.
Remember, my interview with Biviano was on Thursday morning. On Friday morning, a report surfaced that the Medicaid shortfall may be as much as $400 million, and there appears to be some question about whether or not the Governor was honest with lawmakers (and taxpayers) about how deep the shortfall could be.
As far as where we go from here, Biviano said a tax increase proposal from Democrats is likely imminent.
It will be interesting to see how Democrats plan to pay for the shortfalls. My concern is that their plan is going to have to include a tax increase. They want to continue to grow government. But if we’re not willing to stop the growth of government, how are we going to pay for the $250 million shortfall?
I don’t think anyone believes that there’s not some waste in our state government, whether you’re Republican or Democrat.
As I told Rep. Biviano, this is yet another example of Obama-style governing being implemented in the state–run up the bill, create a crisis, and then call for a tax increase. Taxpayers can only hope we have a strong enough Republican caucus in both house of the legislature next year to stop any tax hikes. The next battle is at the ballot box.
I have attempted numerous, numerous times to contact Searcy Police Chief Kyle Osborne, Biviano’s 2012 opponent, for comment on these types of issues facing the state right now. Taxpayers would like to know if he supports Governor Beebe’s plan to continue to grow government. Thus far he has not responded. I am still hopeful that he will sit down for an interview with me, as he promised a few weeks ago.
Governor Beebe has submitted his latest budget, totaling approximately $4.7 billion in spending. But Republican legislators are saying ‘not so fast.’
As reported by Today’s THV & The Associated Press, Republican lawmakers have put the brakes on the Governor’s proposal until their request for $21 million in cuts can be discussed. Talk Business is reporting that the 11 agencies that would receive cuts are as follows:
- Department of Education
- Department of Human Services – Aging and Adult Services & Grants
- Heritage Department
- Agriculture Department
- Labor Department
- Higher Education
- Economic Development
- Parks and Tourism
- Department of Environmental Quality
- Miscellaneous Agencies
$21 million is really a just a fraction of the cuts that we need. Our state government has been growing at an enormous rate for the past ten years (more on this in a few weeks). So while $21 million is better than nothing, and these Republicans deserve praise for their courage, we can’t stop here.
This is the type of work conservatives across the state have been looking for. If Republicans want to truly make this a two-party state, these are the types of battles they need to be fighting–and they must hold the line. To propose these cuts & then cave would be an even worse political disaster than not proposing any cuts at all. If Republicans want to have a strong voice in Little Rock–and perhaps even be the majority party this time next year–they had better make some stands during this fiscal session. Leadership is even more difficult than dissension. If they can’t stand their ground now, in this political & economic climate, we shouldn’t expect them to stand on principle when they’re in power.
Now, I know many of these legislators, and I have faith in most of them, but they have much to prove to the people of Arkansas and this is their chance. Even in this election year, with this economy, it will not be easy for this state to retreat from 100+ years of Democrat leadership. People, for the most part, are comfortable with the familiar. That’s not to say they’re comfortable with all of the failed Democrat policies we’ve been enduring for over a century–such as our state’s abysmal record on education and taxes–but they are going to have to be convinced to change. They need to see clear, strong contrasts.
If Republicans want to lead this state, they’ve got to show their mettle now. Let the games begin.