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.
I’m starting to think I could make a living off of KARK making a living off of people dying.
From their Facebook page last night:
A few things wrong here.
First of all, the obvious: someone has died and so KARK is taking advantage of it by asking for ‘likes,’ which directly benefits them, as we have shown previously.
Secondly, ‘liking’ that post will not enable Facebook users to continue to receive updates on the post. That’s just not how Facebook works. It’s not like commenting on a post where you are automatically enrolled to receive follow-up notifications of other comments. ‘Liking’ this story helps KARK. That’s about it. Either KARK doesn’t understand Facebook (unlikely), or they are knowingly deceiving their followers.
Every time I post about KARK’s grotesque social media practices, I remain hopeful that they will change their policies (I have had conversations with their news director, as have other media outlets, so I know they’re aware of what is being said). And every time, KARK fails to change.
I am not going to make this the ‘anti-KARK blog.’ I don’t intend to write much more about this topic. But this particular post just made my stomach flop in a different way than the others & it deserved a mention. The insensitivity & crassness of these people is still shocking.
I contacted KARK’s News Director via email last night, requesting comment on the story we have been reporting on for a week or so regarding the death of a 4-year old & KARK’s use of the tragedy to gain attention to their social media accounts.
The director told me that he was new to town and not yet familiar with The Patriot. Therefore, he would not be comfortable making a comment until next week when he has had a chance to review my site & the story. He asked that I send him a link so he could gather more information. Not unreasonable.
But earlier in the evening, I confirmed with Arkansas Business that they had obtained a statement from the director regarding this story and that there will be a follow-up story on the scandal in an upcoming issue of AB.
So why did the director tell me he wasn’t prepared to make a statement if he had already made one?
Perhaps there is a reasonable explanation. Perhaps AB talked to one of his staffers, and not the director himself. I have sent him another email asking that he clarify.
Hopefully I will have more info soon.
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.