Saturday, September 06, 2008

What do you do With Enraged Customers?

In this post, I'd like you not to think about the underlying politics. I want you to pretend you're part of the management at CBS or NBC or the NYT or one of the other MSM companies. Now check this out.
CEDARBURG, Wisc. -- Hundreds of angry people in this small town outside Milwaukee taunted reporters and TV crews traveling with Sen. John McCain on Friday, chanting "Be fair!" and pointing fingers at a pack of journalists as they booed loudly.

On the first leg of the "McCain Street USA" tour -- which will take the Republican presidential nominee and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, to small towns across the heartland -- the 30 or so reporters and crew were walking back to their buses to join the McCain motorcade when hundreds of townspeople started yelling.

"Stop lying! You are all liars! Tell the truth!" one woman yelled from the front of the pack.

The crowd was not menacing or threatening, but was clearly angry.

"You're telling lies! Stop the lies!" one man yelled. Asked why the crowd was so angry, Linda J. Green of Mequon, Wisc., said: "I'm thinking the press is very biased."
This is the same kind of thing we saw at the Republican convention. A large portion of the MSM's customer base is enraged at what it perceives as the inferiority of its product.

Think about that for a minute. Say you're in charge of a company whose customers are so angry at your product that they scream at your workers. Instead of the MSM, imagine that it's a group of employees from, say, a local dry cleaner. If you were in charge of the dry cleaner, wouldn't you take action and do it now? Instead, the MSM has allowed this to fester unchecked for years. If it were me in charge, I'd start a marketing campaign to get the message out that we were shaking things up dramatically, that we understood the problem and we were making big changes. Then I'd get rid of the problem. In fact, I would go overboard on the firings just to be sure I'd removed it all. I would never, ever blame the customers.

If I had to, I'd fire the entire newsroom.

Instead, the MSM management has made the mistake of placing their editorial staffs above the customer. The customers are leaving them in droves and are visibly angry with them, but rather than get rid of their editorial and news staffs which are the source of the problem, they're getting rid of their customers.

It's an old rule of thumb in business management that 20% of your customers cause 80% of your problems. Those are the customers who criticize everything, can't figure out your product, use it incorrectly or otherwise screw things up. You don't need or want them. That's the way the MSM is treating a huge swath of the country, a percentage well beyond the standard level of problem customers. These aren't the dingbats who put VHS tapes in their DVD players and then sue the company, these are normal customers.

So why is this happening? Our Holy Ambassador to the Court of the Mainstream Media, Peggy Noonan, has a partial explanation.

Let me say of myself and almost everyone I know in the press, all the chattering classes and political strategists and inside dopesters of the Amtrak Acela Line: We live in a bubble and have around us bubble people. We are Bubbleheads. We know this and try to compensate for it by taking road trips through the continent—we’re on one now, in Minneapolis—where we talk to normal people. But we soon forget the pithy, knowing thing the garage mechanic said in the diner, and anyway we weren’t there long enough in the continent to KNOW, to absorb. We view through a prism of hyper-sophistication, and judge by the rules of Chevy Chase and Greenwich, of Cleveland Park and McLean, of Bronxville and Manhattan.
If that applies to management as well, then the managers of the Tribune Company and the rest have been doing some serious lying to themselves for the past decade. I don't quite believe it. My bet is that Peggy's got it exactly right for the journalists, but the management is simply unable to deal with change.

If 40-50% of your customers are enraged with you, cosmetic changes aren't going to address the situation. You're going to need to clean house in a big way. In the case of the MSM, this means firing vast numbers of Columbia Journalism School graduates and replacing them with ... what? And therein lies the problem. This is a shot in the dark, but my bet is that MSM management has fallen in love with journalists who come from the proper schools. Unfortunately, it's the schools that are the problem. Columbia is as much a far-left indoctrination camp as it is a premier journalism school. You can't have one without the other. MSM management is probably terrified of the thought of separating itself from the Ivy League pipeline of talent, talent which shows up pre-poisoned and doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Instead of making big, public changes, openly pledging themselves to a new course and then asking their old customers to forgive them, something that companies who have gone off the rails do frequently, they're doing nothing at all. They're paralyzed by the conundrum.

So was Marie Antoinette.

But...but...but we hired nothing but Columbia graduates! Why don't you love us?

1 comment:

Rose said...

This is REALLY amazingly awesome, too, KT. Wow. I hadn't heard about this.

They just had a story about the 'flag rescue' on the news, too, that's quite a story. The symbolism is unmistakable. All the teleprompters in the world won't help them against Hurricane Sarah, I think.