Blogs are Crap – More Fallout from the WVU eMBA Scandal

By Justin Seibert| 5 Min Read | August 12, 2008

Rarely do I literally stop everything I’m doing to read an article.  Or post a comment.  Or write a blog.  I hit the trifecta today.

Just when I thought I had said all I could say about the WVU eMBA scandal from an online reputation management perspective, I was sent a link to this article:

Interim WVU president has big goals — but don’t count on him blogging.

Big thank you to Jason Keeling for sending out this article from the Charleston Daily Mail via twitter.  Oh and if you’re into that sort of thing, feel free to follow me on twitter.  We can discuss hopes and dreams 140 characters at a time.

The title’s a bit misleading, but good editors will sometimes do that to draw eyeballs.  That’s why this post was almost named “Naked Supermodels Bomb Panda Bear Orphanage.”

Here’s the money part to the article, emphasis mine:

Interim West Virginia University President C. Peter Magrath said he plans to focus heavily on [three items].

But don’t expect him to blog.Magrath’s predecessor, Mike Garrison, was the first WVU president to type out his thoughts about the university on a blog — jargon for “Web log.” The venture eventually ended up being a sounding board for his critics over the Heather Bresch scandal.

“I don’t believe in blogs,” said Magrath. “You get a lot of crap. A lot of stuff in the blogs really bothers me because it’s one of the things that’s hurting traditional mainstream journalism is that unqualified, untrained people suddenly start reporting on stuff and it starts getting legs and running.”

[Hits head off desk three times, takes advil, bangs head again.]

For a quick recap of the Heather Bresch scandal strictly from an online reputation management perspective, please see the following:

  • Extreme Online Reputation Management: WVU, Mylan, & Governor’s Office Edition
  • Update – WVU President Mike Garrison Emails Employees
  • Governor Manchin Emails State RE: Daughter’s WVU MBA Scandal

Let’s do a quick recap with everything wrong here.  These are the comments I left on the article on the Daily Mail Web site along with some extra info since I’m not bound by a 1000 character limit here:

A couple common misconceptions in this article by both Mr. Anderson and President Magrath that are very, very common:

  1. “The venture eventually ended up being a sounding board for his critics….”While technically accurate, this statement is misleading. People also defended President Garrison on his blog. He had an excellent opportunity to address his critics there, but waited too long to respond to the crisis and never responding to any commenters. He had people creating a conversation on his turf, but no involved parties were willing to making it a real conversation.  It’s sad to say, but I have had WVU officials agree with me that this will probably be a text book case on how not to respond to a crisis in today’s Web 2.0 world.Let me also be clear – having a blog was a good decision by Garrison, one he should be proud of.  It was the execution that was lacking.
  2. “‘I don’t believe in blogs,’ said Magrath. ‘You get a lot of crap.'”I’m not going to be that guy that says, “What do you mean you don’t believe in blogs?  Do unicorns write them?”  A. I don’t want to demean President Magrath.  By all accounts he’s a really good pick by the WVU Board of Governors and I wish him all the success in the world.  B. That would be silly; unicorns would need gigantic keyboards to be able to type out a blog.The folks who attended the Next Generation Marketing series should already be light miming the words I’m about to type.  “Blogs” could be replaced in that sentence by any # of words. How many columnists, movies, songs…are truly good let alone great?  90% of everything is – in President Magrath’s words – “crap.”  Apologies to the fine folks over at firejoemorgan for stealing they’re analogy.  (Fair warning: don’t click that last link if profanity or sabremetrics offend you.)
  3. “‘A lot of stuff in the blogs really bothers me because it’s…hurting traditional mainstream journalism is that unqualified, untrained people suddenly start reporting on stuff and it starts getting legs and running.”MSM has its place and is very valuable. And some blogging is done very dangerously and suffers from not having checks and balances. But on the whole, it has added to the discourse of our society.  Many important stories have only reached the public because of blogging.  Plus the traditional press has given light to many stories that should have stayed locked in a basement.Also, can we please put an end to this main stream media vs. blogging.  It’s just silly.  That’s like debating spaghetti vs. tacos.  They’re both awesome sometimes.  And sometimes really bad.

Here’s the main point I want to make, my flag in the ground if you will, which was also my flag in the ground at the Next Generation Marketing conference series this past spring:

The real question isn’t whether blogging is good or bad – it’s neither.  The conversation will happen.  The question is whether or not you want to join the conversation. It’s going to happen somewhere – why not take part and have your voice heard?

I sincerely wish President Magrath and everyone at WVU the best of luck in moving forward and representing our state proudly.

Frankly I’m not sure he should do a blog since he’s an interim president and has a lot of other work that needs to be fulfilled.  I just hope the next President will take President Garrison’s lead and bring the blog back to the office.

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Written by Justin Seibert

Justin Seibert is the President of Direct Online Marketing. Justin holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University. He contributes a wide range of online business-oriented topics, including the subject of exporting. His contributions can be found on publications such as the Pittsburgh Business Times, AdAge, SES Magazine, and La Voz del interior. Justin and his family enjoy learning about new cultures during their travels.

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