Time in a bottle

Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the effects of social media on local consciousness. I basically said that I don't care what anybody 200 miles away think about what we do in this newspaper. Those people do not support the businesses that support us, they don't vote in the elections that determine how responsive our government is to our neighbors, they probably don't even read my column because they're “intentioned” shoppers looking for specific news items.

That column led to two responses from several different people. First, the one I was looking for, was “Thanks for staying focused on Reno.” You're welcome. It's what we do; it's the reason we work here. The second one took me a little aback. People thought I was ignorant and didn't understand the complexities and benefits of social media.

C'mon. I built the News & Review's Facebook site to 6,000 “likes” before I did the cost-beneft analysis and realized it was more distraction than benefit. We now have more than 8,000 likes based on what my co-publisher, John Murphy, has done. We have more than 4,400 followers on Twitter—far more than most of the people who think I'm ignorant.

I understand perfectly well how social media works, the amount of time it requires to do it well, when there's a public relations benefit to doing it well, and what the bottom-line payback is.

One of these people, a friend and an expert and proponent of the social media stuff, told me, “If you don't stay current on social media, you will be irrelevant,” thinking that was a coup de grace, the strength of his argument devastating to my Luddidity.

Here's my parry: Every week, this newspaper has least 50,000 actual human readers, many of whom look at every page cover to cover. Those people support us, and they support the people who support us. If I were to change my priorities to spend time on Facebook or tweeting at 1:30 p.m. to those people who don't read newspapers, I would truly become irrelevant. And, hopefully, unemployed.