Better to Bite Your Tongue

A short while ago I read an article in a news paper called ‘In Business Las Vegas’. I have a subscription to this, although I never subscribed to it. I believe I get it through my Chamber of Commerce membership.

Anyway, the article was on the front page, and was written by the newspaper’s publisher, Bruce Spotleson. ‘Importance of Letting Go’. It was a story about a rival publisher he’d associated with through different phases of his career.

In summary: The rival was the publisher for a big business weekly in Tucson while Spotleson was the publisher for a big business weekly in Las Vegas. They met at a conference and made nice. When Spotleson left his position at the Vegas weekly, the rival was brought on to take his place. Spotleson became the publisher for another Las Vegas business weekly. So now he and his rival were in direct competition.

The rival publisher started slinging mud at Spotleson’s new newspaper. He started a column that claimed to be about general media happenings, but was mostly focused on Spotleson’s paper. “Masquerading as commentary, the attacks were relentless and vicious. It didn’t take long before word got back to Rod that the coverage was bothering me. He responded by pouring it on. In a couple situations, he went to far even for others to tolerate.”

The article goes on to say that the rival was eventually replaced at his publication and wasn’t seen by Spotleson for a few years. They had a chance meeting, where S. was going to give him a piece of his mind, but the rival ended up apologizing profusely before S had the chance. “I did not know what to say. We shook hands and agreed to stay in touch. But we didn’t, because in reality time alone doesn’t heal all wounds.”

The article closes in a strange way. S. says that the rival just died of cancer, and should anyone see him (in the afterlife) “Tell him we’re good. Tell him I let go.”

That’s not what I got from this article. He hasn’t let go. He’s still hurt and angry over how this petty shit of a man undermined him professionally over the years. He never got to tell him off, so instead he wrote this cathartic article. In it he portrayed the rival accurately, a lousy thing to do to someone who just died, so he wraps it up with a positive anecdote and sentimental drabble. Let’s face it, if he said ‘good riddance’ there would be an outcry.

This is how I interpreted the article as a Publisher who has dealt with similar situations. He’s saying: ‘This guy was a conniving jerk, and I’ve always wanted to set the record straight about his shenanigans, but the last thing I wanted was to start an article war. Now that he’s dead, here’s what it was all about.’ The positive anecdote was spun in Spotleson’s direction even. The rival admitted wrongdoing by apologizing. ‘See, I told you the guy had a vendetta against my Weekly. Now you have proof!’

I can relate to to Spotleson so very well in this situation. I know the personality type of his rival. I’ve dealt with people like this twice in the past. And even though I sympathize with him, this article was a bad idea.

It taught me, ‘It’s better to bite your tongue.’ Addressing his rival makes Spotleson seem vulnerable and emotional. No matter how bad this person made him feel there’s no point in dredging it up again. He had gotten the rival to rescind one libelous article. That was the correct thing to do, and the right time to do it. The other color commentary against his weekly needed to be ignored. To talk about it is saying, ‘He got to me. I’m not a strong person. Trolls like this hurt my feelings. I take it personal. He won.’ It’s not the image any publisher wants to portray.

The few times I’ve confronted trolls I’ve regretted it. Before I read this article, I wasn’t aware of how bad I looked doing it. This is a good lesson to remember the next time I’m tempted to ‘set the record straight.’ Unless it’s action on the level of getting a publication to rescind an article it’s better to bite your tongue.


0 Responses to “Better to Bite Your Tongue”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: