When & How To Respond To
Hateful Criticism From Viewers

When & How To Respond To Hateful Criticism From Viewers

Written by Lois Lane
🕒 July 31, 2020

Reporting for broadcast news has a number of obvious differences from print…

For example, broadcast news puts a face to the report. This can either lead to a highly recognizable brand, or a slew of hateful criticism from viewers. How you handle that response can have an effect on how you are viewed as a journalist.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of criticism. Whether it’s a comment on the neckline of your dress, from a hyper-conservative viewer, or a critique of your voice and delivery.

Viewers don’t know the work that goes into the actual content we’re providing. So they often latch on to physical characteristics that seem irrelevant to the reporting.

When responding to criticism, or unwanted advances from viewers, it’s important to maintain your dignity and composure.

Respond in a professional way. Professional doesn’t mean rolling over and taking intentionally hurtful comments, but it does mean refraining from cursing or throwing jabs.

Keep in mind that your responses can be screenshot and posted to community chat groups, which, out of context, may harm your reputation.

Some messages do not warrant a response. However, if you feel it’s necessary to respond to an upsetting critique, focus the message on your dedication to journalism and reporting important community stories.

For instance, if someone writes in to say they thought your outfit was inappropriate, or they don’t like the sound of your voice, you could reply with:

“I’m working every day to grow and improve as a journalist, and I’m dedicated to reporting the highest quality. It’s about the message, not the messenger.”

That said, news reporters and anchors should be mindful about how they brand themselves.

It’s more valuable to be known for your hard-hitting questions, dogged pursuit of the truth, and your creative editing skills. Rather than being revered as the reporter who always posts about her new manicure, or ab-burning workout.

It is useful to share some of your personal life with viewers, as a way to bring them in and make them feel connected. However, don’t let that connection be mistaken for a bloated ego that’s only looking for likes and flattering comments.

There’s a certain respectability needed, when you put forth an investigative report, that suffers if your professional Facebook page is full of bathing suit photos and fake lash recommendations.

Being yourself is always best practice.

So, if that means sharing your daily hikes with viewers, or adding puns into your script (when appropriate), or offering a behind the scenes look at how you tackle your daily assignments, absolutely do that! However, keep in mind your journalistic values, and how what you share of your personal life, will influence the way your work is received.

When responding to criticism, keep in mind that this is one person’s opinion and it does not define you. How you respond to that person is important, and could even help them understand your methods, style, or your approach.

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