Desperately trying to give Engle and the Kansas City Star benefit of the doubt, I quickly looked up Engle on Twitter to see if he had mentioned anything about his inappropriately timed post. Unfortunately, his Twitter account only nailed in the fact that he absolutely meant to offend and call Joan Rivers' out for hating on his town:
First off, "cool" should NEVER been a world correlated with a tragic death. The crass, disgusting manner in which Engle rubs in the fact that he wrote a negative post about the comedian is beyond unprofessional.
Beyond his Tweet, is the perverse post he decided to post the same afternoon as Rivers' death. (Read it here:http://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/article1515273.html). This post is so perfect to dissect for what NOT to do when a celebrity dies, AND when you're a newspaper trying to survive the new social media era.
#1- Drudging up a fact from 30 years ago
WTF, KC Star and Engle?! You really had to go all the way back to the 1980s to find something on Joan Rivers? Isn't your job to write about RELEVANT news? A comment made 30 years ago means nothing to anyone except those with major egos living in Kansas City.
Correct thing to do: Don't write a post, unless you have something in the past few years to link to the situation.
#2- Proving you are, indeed, what the person you are making fun of said you were
From timing to the crass tone to the gloating about your bad connection with a celebrity that just died to not responding on social media, you did nothing here but PROVE that you are, indeed, stupid when it comes to publishing and social media.
Correct thing to do: Try to disprove what the person accused you of being, or don't bring it up at all at the risk of making you look like you are actually exactly what the joked you to be.
#3- Having the worst timing ever
A celebrity just died --> I'm pretty sure there's no moral or ethical code that says it's okay to pull up negative, critical, making-fun-of facts about something the same day as their death.
Correct thing to do: As I mentioned in my post about unethical reporting around Robin Williams' suicide (Read here: Get Your Sh*t Together, Social Media --> The Unethical Reporting on Robin Williams' Suicide), leave the cleverness and crude humor for sometime other than the death of a celebrity.
#4- Trying to cash in on a popular trending social topic
You look desperate having to take us back to the 1980s in order to make any connection at all to you and Joan Rivers. You also look ridiculous posting this article the same day of Rivers' death, and then not acknowledging she died that day anywhere AT ALL in this post. This post reads more like a junior high school boy's rant than even a casual blog post.
Correct thing to do: Don't cash in on social trends unless you have a relevant, timely way to connect to them. It's better to not participate, then look ridiculous stretching your content to match the trend.
#5- Staying SILENT in a social can of worms you opened yourself up to
Don't start a conversation you can't finish. Many Tweets have been passed between my followers and me using @KCStar and @Tim_Engle, and not ONE party has responded.
Correct thing to do: If you want to open a can of worms in the middle of a hot topic trend, you better have the manpower and statements ready for the responses you receive. As anyone with a brain in social media knows --> it's a two way conversation.
This is just another example of traditional and social media believing they don't have to live up to the standard code of ethics. They're welcome to keep testing their limits, but based on the KC Star's Facebook page, it's doing nothing but backfiring in this new social era.
Good luck with that.
PS- It's nice to see that the post was edited at 6:05 AM today, after tons of feedback about the crassness of it, and not an apparent word of it has changed or been altered in response to the feedback.
- Marji J. Sherman