After firing one of the best writers covering Mississippi State football (and basketball and baseball, well, you get the point), the Commercial Dispatch continues to prove that it is out of touch with MSU fans.
It’s hard to imagine being less aware of reality (and how others are perceiving reality) than the Commercial Dispatch right now. The Dispatch is a newspaper based out of Columbus, Mississippi but it also serves the Starkville, Mississippi area as well. As part of that, the Dispatch has a sports section that covers the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Up until they fired Brett Hudson, the Commercial Dispatch actually did a very good job of providing a comprehensive look at Mississippi State athletics. With Hudson on board as their beat writer for the Bulldogs, the Dispatch had a writer and reporter who went out of his way to engage with the State faithful and provide them with incredible content.
But after Hudson was let go, the Dispatch has seemingly gone out of its way to show that it has no real connection with MSU fans. The management is apparently completely out of touch with a rather large portion of its audience.
Clue number one:
The first great example of this came when the Dispatch, for whatever reason, tweeted an article authored by Hudson shortly after he announced that he was let go.
There’s a very real chance that this was unintentional and is simply just something that whoever maintains the social media channels for the Dispatch scheduled prior to the unexpected firing. If that’s the case, then this individual should have been informed so that they could then remove any and all scheduled tweets with Hudson’s work.
How this tweet still remains up at the time of writing, over three days later than when the tweet was posted, amazes me.
This is definitely, and clearly, a lack of awareness on what’s going on in social media channels. Any company or organization worth their salt should have someone who knows when and how to interact with stakeholders on social media.
The Dispatch, evidently, doesn’t.
Clue number two:
Trying to hire a beloved writer’s replacement on twitter is, well, not a great idea in any situation, but especially so in this particular one.
And despite the fact that many Mississippi State fans on twitter have been mad at the Dispatch for its decision to fire Brett Hudson, tweeting to possible replacements for Hudson is exactly what Adam Minichino, the Dispatch’s sports editor, did.
It’s hard to imagine making a move that is quite as tone deaf as this one. But, given how out of touch the Dispatch has seemed in this process, tone deaf moves on the part of the Dispatch and its management shouldn’t be a surprise.
This is situation is not helping the Dispatch’s reputation or its finances.
Twitter is not the only platform on which Mississippi State fans are upset with the Dispatch about this whole mess. Over on Facebook, MSU fans have taken to giving negative reviews for the newspaper’s page as a direct result of this situation.
There’s some very real reputational damage that has resulted from this. This has become, more or less, an unexpected crisis on the part of the newspaper. More than likely, had this outcome been something the Dispatch’s management could have predicted, then it’s unlikely that Hudson would have been let go here.
But there’s something else that might take a hit here: the Dispatch’s pocketbook.
Creating “hateholders” while losing “faith-holders” is a dangerous thing for an organization in crisis. Essentially, angering stakeholders and readers, and turning them against the Dispatch, will not yield a positive outcome.
That should seem obvious and straightforward.
It will, instead, cost the Dispatch a lot in its reputation, and also potentially money from subscriptions and sales. If MSU fans, in response to this situation, to pull their financial support away from the newspaper, then there’s plenty of potential for the Dispatch to lose a lot of money. After all, we are talking about a small-circulation newspaper nestled right in the midst of the Golden Triangle, roughly 30 minutes away from Mississippi State’s campus.
It’s already clear that there is reputational damage that is done. It’s not yet clear as to how much money the Dispatch will lose from all of this.
Regardless, the newspaper and its management have proven themselves to be out of touch with Mississippi State fans and readers. This situation may haunt them for quite some time. If they weren’t already aware that they were in the midst of something of a crisis, maybe they’ll soon realize it and act accordingly.