Monday, September 12, 2011

Did she really write that? Tennessean Senior Editor draws allegations of poaching for her paper

Here's part of the blog post Tennessean Editor Knight Stivender wrote for the BarCamp website (BarCamp being a clique of local techies, social media mavens, and digital geeks who consider their klatch an "un-conference," I guess because conferences are not hip):

This will be the fourth year The Tennessean has sponsored the day-long, free conference at Cadillac Ranch. In addition to employee training in all manner of digital development, content and marketing, here are four more reasons your company should do the same:

.... It’s a great place to steal people. I’ve attempted to steal my share of other companies’ employees during BarCamp sessions and post-camp follow-ups.

Charges of poaching are flying in the social media, and some on the un-conference side seems to be responding defensively to criticism.

The editor replied to the dust up via Twitter:

Cheers to [BarCamp 2011] and all who are building new connections in this economy.

Well, it is a desperate economy, but an economy driven by top-heavy corporations, like the paper's parent company Gannett, with bloated executive salaries and massive cuts to jobs filled by proverbial ground troops. So, the Tennessean is actually part of the problem rather than an economic solution, at least in terms of long-term employment prospects. And digital culture jobs seem to be the most insecure of all. (The Huffington Post, valued at hundreds of millions, drew fire this year for exploiting writers by not paying them; now they have launched a project to use minors as unpaid contributors).

But what makes the idea of "connections" objectionable in principle is that sometimes connections bias journalistic objectivity in reporting the news. I'm already uncomfortable with the ways Tennessean tentacles extend out into organizations and into the community in unhip ways, but do charges of the corporate giant sponsoring events to poach lower-to-mid level employees off other local companies have traction?

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