How to complain about a blog or news story


A few times a week—if not daily—I see complaints about seemingly inappropriate, inconsiderate, idiotic, hateful, hurtful or altogether unnecessary blog posts, news articles and other related commentary.

Most often I see this in the form of a Facebook post or a Tweet that contains criticism of the content in question and a link to it. This approach typically works well for sparking discussion and debate, as well as upping traffic to the original post. Since traffic often means money for the publisher, this approach serves both the critic and the source of the original piece. What a lot of bloggers won’t readily admit is that the more of this sort of complaining the better because it increases traffic and attention to their work. To a large degree, I believe that this also plays in the favor of news agencies (particularly those that host blogs).

(This is why I have taken to criticizing some of the voices—from this paper and elsewhere—I abhor without ever directly addressing or linking to them. This is particularly the case for those that make crass, stupid points in hopes of receiving traffic created by the audience of other bloggers.)

If you are actually expecting action by the author or publisher, though, the best course of action is to get in touch with them directly via email or by phone. I have had luck in doing so with a few papers and bloggers. The most recent example that comes to mind is when a local paper made reference to a young girl that had died as “attractive”. This was at once repulsive and seemingly unintentional. I got in touch with the editorial department, explained my position, and action was taken immediately. That result would have been unlikely had I simply posted the story to social media, where the social media manager, not the editors of the paper, would have been on the receiving end of my complaint. And from a blogger perspective, I very much welcome direct contact and criticism as it helps the overall health of my blog.

These are, of course, general suggestions about who to complain to and how to go about it, when you object to something that appears in blog or news article. There are, of course, exceptions to this general rule, and sometimes mob-intimidation earns quicker [and more questionable] action than a measured response. As a general rule, though, direct contact tends to be immediate and persuasive.

So if your intention is to engage in public conversation about perspectives you disagree with, by all means take it to social. In the event that you have an issue with a blog, a paper, or anything in between, and you hope to see action taken, get in touch with them directly before taking complaints to Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else designed for the public airing of grievances. And having come from a political background, I can say with certainty this applies to politics as well. Bangor City Councilor Ben Sprague implied as much in a status update recently, suggesting that direct contact with the council is much more likely to be acknowledged and acted upon than passing complaints via social media. When you want action, go to the source and if you don’t feel as though you were paid proper consideration, take it public.

(And don’t reward link-baiting trolls who want nothing more than for you to be offended and send traffic their way.)

TOTAL SIDE NOTE: While looking for an image to accompany this post, I came across this stock photo of Angry Pregnant Hillbilly Woman Yelling at a Man With Chocolate, because obviously that exists for some reason.

Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.