Participants in a world of passengers: sometimes the two are confused

February 3, 2017
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It would seem an appropriate time to opine on the effectiveness of all armchair quarterbacks. The ferociousness of armchair warriors only can be understated. Defending, opposing and advising from the safe harbor of a cushy chair rather than the field of practice and trial has become common habit. The Business Journal does not confine such comment to a football field or sports in general, but in regard to its pervasiveness in all aspects of life. The raucousness enveloping politics to the point of paralysis also can pose threat to business operations and necessary economic fuel for local economies. If such behavior is acceptable, it also poses a great threat to the partnerships and compromises that have built this community.

The Business Journal sometimes bears witness to such quarterbacks, shouting command and comment from the armchair safety of personal social media posts without ever having read the report on which they opine. Or suggesting “alternative views” rather than straight news.

One example in December was a report on business community newcomers all hired within the last few years for very public leadership positions. They are all white males. That such a fact registered among many readers offers some evidence of a conscious effort to become a more inclusive business community. Some others opined the Business Journal had some fault for reporting on those leaders rather than reporting and depicting something to offer a “diverse” row of photos. The Business Journal is a mirror of the business community (specifically); it captures what exists and cannot capture what does not exist.

It is fact, too, the Business Journal and grbj.com almost daily reflect the increasing involvement and growth of minority business owners. Despite aforementioned outcry from armchair quarterbacks those stories are the least read, least shared and draw the least comment. The armchair quarterback perhaps is too self-absorbed in endless opining to notice — or to participate.

On Jan. 27, grbj.com issued a breaking news story about Darel Ross II and Jorge Gonzalez joining Start Garden and the organization’s new direction to launch/attract minority businesses to West Michigan. Diversity and inclusion news doesn’t get much bigger than this.

The Journal’s breaking news enewsletters traditionally are well read, with anywhere from 12 percent to 28 percent of recipients immediately opening the story in their email. After two days, this story stood at an open rate of 7 percent. Likewise, the Feb. 1 daily enewsletter contained seven stories. The least-read story of the day: “Downtown museum producing ethnic heritage festival.”

The Business Journal has stated in public addresses on several occasions that the news team is not compensated on the basis of “likes,” they are compensated on the basis of accuracy. Reporting on all aspects of the business community is an important part of the reflection and will continue no matter who’s watching.

But that focus is on participants, not passengers. Do you want to make a difference, or just a comment?

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