It would be fair to say that Tnooz has taken quite a bit heat this past week over our decision to write a story about MissTravel, a new travel planning/dating startup.
Our North America editor Dennis Schaal wrote a short piece about the site (When travel gets really social or new type of escorted tour?), neither particularly praising or condemning it.
It was a pretty straight piece of reporting about a new service which has attracted a lot of coverage in recent weeks.
Nevertheless, our decision to even consider covering it has attracted a fairÂ amount of criticism, most notably this from “Josh” who also disliked our response (one in particular) to concerns by readers:
Without being self-righteousâ€¦ and far from allowing you or Tnooz to please me.. here goesâ€¦
So having attained a level of authority and following, you now would like to simply use it whichever way you wish to and respond to comments such as mine and or othersâ€™ where there is a level of disagreement with a response as â€ť â€¦canâ€™t (do not strive to) please everyoneâ€™? really Kevin? is that all you could come up with?
me or all of those who are commenting or following stories or news at Tnooz are not here for personal reasons, are we? and are we here to be pleased or pandered to.. mmâ€¦?”
Let me see, I come to this site often, and I have noticed this arrogant tone in your responses to comments where folks have criticized you and you have responded in a negatively/defensive tone and not taking any ethical journalistic responsibility or correcting or even accepting any sort of error on your part in the storylineâ€¦
“your response, attitude is: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT this is how it is and we will blow air under any and every skirt? as long as its news and if that means creating a buzz by writing up on dubious sites pretending to be travel oriented in spite of knowing well the player/s behind it, you stand by it.
“May as well start writing up on numerous dating sites cropping up, they all have some sort of travel angle to it as that seems to be your base criteria.Â And like Dennis Schaal says .. let the chips fall where they may.. nice..”
While we obviously do not seek to bask in the glory of deliberately upsetting readers, it is true that we have to take difficult decisions as to what to cover on Tnooz.
This is how we responded to “josh”:
Apologies for the brevity of my original response â€“ it was almost 10pm and I didnâ€™t have the time for anything of more substance.
While “canâ€™t (do not strive to) please everyone” might feel like a bit of a brush off, it is actually the reality of news gathering and editorial decision making, perhaps outlined to some in a slightly flippant manner.
Media brands cannot assume everything they write will be 1) of interest 2) accepted by the entire readership, so we donâ€™t agonise over every story in the hope that it will strike a positive chord with everyone.
If this wasnâ€™t the case, we would never write another story about a development or deal signed by a GDS, for example, simply because there are plenty of people in the industry who dislike that form of distribution and its perceived stranglehold on the industry.
And they probably raise their eyes to the sky every time they see such a story on Tnooz.
We knew this story would polarise opinions, but many of our stories do â€“ we suspect that is why we have grown quickly and have that “authority” (thx for the kind word, weâ€™re actually far too humble to say it ourselves), because weâ€™re not afraid to step in to areas where others have shied away from.
As a result, we do not feel the need to apologise or, as you say, take any journalistic responsibility for this story. It is an interesting tale, in terms of the approach (very trip planning-esque design, for example, rather than a spammy affiliate link-laden effort common with other dating sites) was getting coverage in the mainstream tech media
It is worth reminding that we will ALWAYS come clean and correct inaccurate content.
But we live and die by our coverage every single day, and if READERS think we have poor judgement over a story, then we have to accept that we cannot please everyone all the time.
This is nothing new and any editor or reporter worth their salt will have the same attitude, as difficult as it is to accept that on occasion people might not personally feel as if their needs are being catered for.
Finally, if you feel that our response to criticism is often defensive, then I will simply say that I generally try and respond to comments in the tone in which they were posted. Thatâ€™s a personal thing, and not a policy. Our reporters all have different styles.
I am happy to accept that on occasions my tone is flippant/arrogant â€“ so apologies if it offends SOME people.
However, it also worth pointing out that while we have â€“ and are keen to continue â€“ a policy of including anonymous comments on Tnooz, I find it disappointing when readers decide to criticise us as individuals or as a brand without identifying who they are.
Itâ€™s not A Thing â€“ it would just be easier to have a reasoned debate/argument with a reader if we had some idea of who they are!
Anyway, thanks for the thoughtful response and clearly showing that you care. I hope this response has done enough to repair your faith in our approach and tactics.
We figured it was worth repeating here, not as a defensive mechanism but because such incidents do give us pause for thought about what we do as reporters, writers and editors every day.
As mentioned in an earlier comment, yes, some might argue that MissTravel is indeed a particularly seedy approach to social travel and shouldnâ€™t be covered at all, but equally some might also suggest that giving it a platform here and then the industry seeing the groundswell of negative reaction to it in the comments is of equal importance.
Potential partners (which the site will always need) may well think twice if they see an outpouring of vitriol against it here on a leading industry media site from its loyal readers.
But weâ€™re happy to take a knock on the chin for this one if weâ€™ve failed in the minds of some readers. Nevertheless, weÂ stand by our decision to cover the story in the first instance.