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June 13, 2005

Strictly business, sonny

Steve Gilliard is right about the Kos pie ad, it is about the money.

Kos is a businessman. Ultimately, his advertisers pay for his readers' eyeballs. If Kos's readers don't like his ads, it's very much his problem. Readers who take the time to complain are doing him a favor. If an ad is hurting traffic or alienating valued diarists, then it's in his best interest to hear about it.

Steve writes:

The problem is that people have come to expect that when they express a concern, it will be considered and taken seriously, instead of being told to pound sand. Sometimes, they get told to pound sand.

Kos isn't going to explain why that ad wasn't going anywhere, but I think you deserve to understand the issues here. I see this from the publisher's side and I think that's the real issue here.

Yes, readers expect media outlets to consider their complaints and respond respectfully. I don't see that as a problem. Consideration != Deference.

Obviously, Kos can't please everyone. He was well within his rights to ignore the offended parties or tell them to take a walk.

Instead Kos went on a decidedly unbusinesslike rant. He was rude. He wasn't just snooty about the unnamed individuals who complained. He insulted everyone who might agree with the emailers, and anyone else who might be sympathetic to any aspect of (what he assumed to be) the emailers' worldview.

If Kos had said what Steve said, we wouldn't be having this argument. The sensible answer is simple:

"I'm running a business, I can't afford to micromanage my ad content. I'm sorry if the ad offends some of you, but my decision is final."

Kos was pissed off because some female readers had the nerve to question his advertising policy. If these emailers had written to any other professional media outlet, they would have gotten a polite reply. No newspaper or TV station would berate an entire demographic over a few letters of complaint.

Male privilege is not a sound business model.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Strictly business, sonny :

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» No soup for you! from Lance Mannion
Steve Gilliard, spectacularly missing the point, took on the pie fight fight as if the whole debate was only and still is about whether or not Kos should have run the ad.Look, this isn't a game. You don't get to make your little points for free. If he ... [Read More]

» Daily Kos Kerfuzzle from Alas, a Blog
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» Drawing a Road Map from A Beautiful Soul
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Comments

This is the best post I've seen on the subject yet. Kudos.

Well said. After all the posts on lefty blogs pointing out Daniel Okrent's imperious snootery toward the Times' readers, it's good to see a spade called a spade.

on a somewhat tangential point, i've never been super-impressed with kos. he often displays a ideological rigidity and self-righteousness that is not really different from dobson/sauron/etc. of course, he's on my "side" so to speak, but i still find him annoying.

and to be frank, i think his blog contributes very little thoughtful commentary - especially when compared to blogs like yglesias's or drum's or this one.

Regardless of whether one gets deal of value from KOS, he does attract a very large audience/readership and I could not believe his response to that ad criticism. For someone who talks about the power of interactivity - looks like it got a little too interactive for him.

I'd like to think that at least some of you are not surprised by this sort of indelicate, unthought-through, brusque response from the kid. His previous comments about Kerry or Krugman are just a few examples of this temperament.

You're right on, Lindsay, as everyone agrees. And Publius, I couldn't agree more about the content of Daily Kos. The site is good in netroots work, or following the political landscape (in terms of coming elections, polls and such), but it lacks the intellectual depth of many of the other sites.

dKos certainly doesn't have a whole ton of intellectual depth - but I'm not sure if it was ever supposed to, or if that's a bad thing. It's primarily a site for organizing and strategy, as far as I can tell, although it can sometimes be something of an anti-war clearing house as well. It's useful, apparently - it gets a lot of people connecting and contributing and worked up, as far as I can tell. I used to read it all the time and now barely check on it at all, but it seems like it's effective at what it does. I agree that Kos being an ass from time to time is probably counterproductive, but as to the general content, I don't fault him or his community for not providing me with what I want...they don't seem to be trying to.

Kos provides a lot of value. Like Eli says, his strength is organizing, lobbying, and running an internet community. He gives a good MSM interview. Many Kos alumni are doing great work on their own blogs today. Steve Gilliard springs to mind. So does Lorraine Berry. I think Jerome Armstrong got his start as a Kossack, but I could be wrong. At the very least, he and Kos go back a long way.

Billmon is a former Kossack too, along with Maha of Mahablog and many, many others. Along with what Eli said, Kos has also been a great incubator for blogging talent. Also, his media appearances (Air America, etc) are usually pretty solid.

That said, he's been a real dick about this ad thing. I know his recent behavior has caused a lot of people to doubt the sincerity and depth of his commitment to core liberal values (especially wrt/feminism and reproductive rights). I can't say I blame them. I happen to think his heart is in the right place, but his mouth -- that's another story. And while I do think the leftie blogosphere has (much) bigger fish to fry, but I also can't blame people for being upset about the way Kos has conducted himself lately.

It's odd to be seen as the reasonable person in a debate.

But when you work at something and a group of people go off on a tangent, expecting people to be pissed should be normal. A lot of the arguments were silly. But I think a lot of people have little idea of the intense amount of work that goes on with a blog.

I am not trying to help candidates win. I have the luxury of being able to write about history and place things in context. But the solution is not to complain. It's to do it yourself. You don't think something is being done, do it yourself. This ain't TV. You can participate.

You have this ability. Worrying about what other people write or do is wasted energy.

*clap clap clap* Thank you so much. I wish I had been so eloquent. Nonetheless, I still managed to find a cute pic of James Dean flashing a little ass and that makes it up for me.

Also, that said, when I got complaints about the ad, I wrote people back and said that Pandagon doesn't pay for itself and nor do we vet the ads. We really don't--I don't pay much attention to them, Jesse hits the accept button and we go on with our day.

I agree with Lindsay and Eli on this. Kos can be a total ass sometimes as he was in his rant about the ad, but i have also seen some great links and insightful commentary on issues from members of his community.

I've seen some exceptional pieces on debating skills, Sun Tzu's the art of war and the political process, and a lot of national political races and possible impacts. Additionally the resource links have proven to be substantial that have been recommended... most recently as an example one poster sent me the link on a budget watch group that analyzes our US spending by category:

http://www.nationalpriorities.org/

So while Kos may not be that insightful himself, many of the folks who post there have lots of excellent info to share... and isn't that the point of a discussion blog?

You have this ability. Worrying about what other people write or do is wasted energy.

Very true. But the flipside is that in the blogosphere you can email the editor of the biggest blog in the business and tell them what you think. There's something amazing about the immediacy of the contact between even the biggest bloggers and their readership. Even people who don't want their own blogs can at least register their views with influential people (who are of course free to tell them to take a hike, but still..).

Thanks, Amanda. I don't vet my ads either. I mean, if Refuge wanted to advertise, I'd turn them down. But other than that, I don't really care. Good taste is a luxury I can't always afford around here.

Steve,

If Kos had just said what Amanda just said:

[my blog] doesn't pay for itself and nor do [I] vet the ads. We really don't--I don't pay much attention to them, [I hit] the accept button and [I] go on with [my] day.

… this entire brouhaha could have been avoided.

But the solution is not to complain. It's to do it yourself. You don't think something is being done, do it yourself. This ain't TV. You can participate.

You have this ability. Worrying about what other people write or do is wasted energy.

Interesting. I thought that the women's studies set, by complaining, were participating, but I guess not. At least that's what I'm reading in what you wrote.

I suppose the next time I hear a lefty blogger complain about what Friedman or David Brooks writes, I'll have to remind them that they're wasting energy. They should buck up, get out there, and do.

"No newspaper or TV station would berate an entire demographic over a few letters of complaint." Perhaps not - but let's not forget what the ombudsperson for the august New York Times did to an intemperate correspondent: not content to characterize and criticize the content of the correspondent's message, Okrent published the name and address of the individual in question, thus subjecting him to extensive harassment and some very troubling threats. Kos's little tirade, petulant and ill-considered as it may have been, was not remotely as egregious as Okrent's MSM meltdown.

Okrent is a sleazebag who didn't deserve to be Public Editor. He should have been shitcanned for publishing that guy's name and hometown. The email in question was sent to Adam Nagourney, not even to Okrent. Suddenly the letter writer was getting death threats from all over the U.S. I blogged about it at least twice, once immediately afterwards, and once upon Okrent's parting spat with Krugman.

Kos would never single an individual reader out like that. He's a fundamentally good guy who does a lot of good work for the progressive blogosphere and the Democratic party.

I've only met him once, but I was really impressed by him as a human being. I met Kos at the Tank in Manhattan during the RNC. They had free WiFi set up so that we could liveblog Bush's address. I was only a couple weeks into the whole blogging thing and this was my first event as an "out" blogger. They had a couch set up on the side as the "blogger's alley." Kos came in and sat down next to me. We started chatting. He was the nicest, most down to earth person. No attitude, no preening, nothing. I didn't quite realize who he was until someone yelled "Kos, let me buy you pizza!"

To give you some idea of how nervous I was, that was the same night that I saw Steve Gilliard but didn't actually meet him because I was too scared to introduce myself. I had to email him the next day and say "hi" belatedly.

Anyway, I'm convinced Kos is a good guy, even if we don't necessarily agree on certain points of gender politics.

my gripe is not so much with his personal characteristics - i'm sure he's a good guy. and i certainly admire his organizational skills and innovations - i've even compared him to a modern-day Andrew Jackson little-"d" democratic revolutionary.

but my gripe is with the content of his writing. i find him to be excessively "certain" (in the Holmesian sense) and self-righteous - which gets reflected in his too-bitter attacks on people who are aligned with his political interests. i find him to be certain and ideologically rigid in the same way that evangelicals are certain and ideologically rigid.

If by "certain" you mean that he is a Democratic liberal oriented website... he is that and doesn't pretend to be anything else. As to ideologically rigid... I don't agree with that.

He often runs contrary to the beltway crowd and at the moment that running a discussion on what "core values" should be embraced by the Democrats, which he admits he is ill equipped to do but finds it necessary and has devoted three threads to it.

He's also been doing some soul searching in public in the last couple of days about the necessity of listening to eachother better, something that he admits he needs to be better at.

There's a good bit of humility showing up of late. I find it interesting that it should come on the heels of his rant about the ad. Would you care to be a bit more specific?

He's also been doing some soul searching in public in the last couple of days about the necessity of listening to eachother better, something that he admits he needs to be better at.

Kos himself said that? The only person I saw saying that was Armando. (Of course, I could easily have missed it.)

He's also been doing some soul searching in public...

good to hear flint, if that's true.

Great post, Lyndsay.

I don't care about the stupid pie ad. But Kos's attitude is utterly offensive. His response to any woman who doesn't like his ad is basically: suck my cock, bitches.

I ain't never going back to that site again. Although actually it's not much of a sacrifice, I thought it was pretty disorganized and unwieldy to be very useful anyway.

But if Kos's attitude is he can run any ad he wants, because he needs to make money, then fine - why doesn't he take ads for the National Review? What about Playboy? Or porn sites? Hell, why not devote part of Daily Kos to porn - I understand that porn is HUGELY profitable.

What a complete fucking asshole. And hopefully our resistance will cause Kos to turn totally to the capitalism-at-any-cost dark side, because I sure as fuck don't want him on our side.

Nancy - was that supposed to be some kind of parody, or are you really that angry. Take a chill pill.

What part did you think was a parody, you patronizing fuck?

Sorry Lindsay - not Lyndsay!

Nancy - O.K., the latter then. Have a nice evening.

Cheers,

a (thankfully anonymous) patronizing fuck

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