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Village Voice Media Honcho Mike Lacey Still Trying to Figure Out This Whole Internet Thing*

It’s not often Village Voice Media capo dei capi Mike Lacey graces the pages, web or otherwise, of his media properties. But this communique from the bossman–his first in months–went out yesterday on the LA Weekly‘s Informer blog, as well as every other website in the VVM chain.

Is it just us, or does this post demonstrate Lacey has absolutely no clue how blogging, Twitter or the entire Internet seem to work. First off, what’s up with the hashtag in the headline? You use that for Twitter. It doesn’t work when you blog.

Is it an ironic hashtag? A subtle jab at how the media has reduced the importance of WikiLeaks to a trending topic on Twitter? Doubt it. But even if it is, that’s the kind of thing you need to, you know, actually write about in the body of your post. Instead, Lacey gives us two lines that would be far better suited for…well…Twitter. One liner opinions look completely half-assed when you blog. They don’t look nearly as lazy on Twitter.

Remember, this guy owns a fairly sizable media empire. He’s not some content manufacturer schlub writing for and getting paid 7 bucks for 1,000 hits. The guy only writes every few months. It’s not like he’s cranking out 10 posts a day. Try a little harder Mike. It doesn’t look good when your Twitter doppelganger has a better grasp on new media than you do. And is more prolific too.

Anyway, we were told yesterday the post was a teaser for a story Lacey was in the middle of–which came out today. Nice to see Lacey sticking up for a good cause–something he typically doesn’t let his writers do.

*Update: LA Weekly editor Drex Heikes wrote us a comment in response to our post:

Correction: Mike Lacey had nothing to do with the hashtag. A phone call to the Weekly would have revealed that our web editor smartly added the hashtag so when LA Weekly readers retweet the blog using the TweetMeme share button, the post would automatically be placed in Twitter’s Wikileaks search and trending filters, making it more available for those in the Twitter community who are actively staying on top of Wikileaks story.

If you look at the success the Weekly and Village Voice Media properties are
having online, you would realize that Mike has his company at the forefront
of print media companies making the transition–largely because he has hired
smartly and quickly and challenged his editors to stay ahead of the curve.

As for Mike barring his writers from “sticking up for a good cause….” That
statement is breathtaking in its ignorance. One thing Mike does bar his writers from doing is expressing opinions without first finding the facts.

Drex Heikes
LA Weekly

My response to Heikes is below:

To start, I did email your web editor yesterday to ask if the post was Lacey’s–not just a tweet someone converted into blog form–and more specifically, about the hashtag. She was kind enough to confirm that the post was indeed your boss’s but did not provide any more specifics about the tag. I was left to reasonably assume that the post, tag and all, was his. Considering that every iteration of this post across the VVM chain contained the same tag, I’m skeptical that this was a “smart” decision made locally.

And if putting hashtags in blog headlines is such a super-smart move, why hasn’t that strategy been employed in any of the Weekly’s numerous other posts on WikiLeaks? You know why, because it looks Orwellian and ridiculous. Whoever does the Weekly’s tweeting could just as easily inserted the hashtag when they retweeted Lacey’s headline. It would have showed up in the trending filters just the same–but it wouldn’t have made your boss look silly.

I’ll stay away from criticizing VVM’s miraculous transition to the online world, because I’m stuck in the same cynical digital game. Sadly, titty slideshows and mining Google trends are what seem to define success in the for-profit digital era. I’m sure VVM is doing just fine.

And as far as VVM journos “sticking up for a good cause.” Mike Lacy’s distaste for advocacy journalism–reported or otherwise–is well-established. Which is odd, because his most recent story, like most of his pieces, contains little to no reporting and is essentially an opinion piece. The type that has gotten many VVM writers canned over the years. Over the summer he ran endorsements in the Phoenix New Times for several local candidates up for election in Arizona–something he refuses to allow his other papers to do.

I actually agree with Lacey on his WikiLeaks stance, as I did with his piece on Sheriff Joe that ran in the Weekly last April. (His Janet Napolitano clip job from a couple of years ago, however, is a different story.) But the fact is, Lacey has a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude when it comes to journalism. Which is fine. He’s the boss. But I still get to call him out for it.

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