I’ve been blogging for over 20 years, and in those years I’ve managed to piss quite a few people off. I’m actually proud of that because if you piss people off, it means they give a damn. Look at it this way: the worst thing that can happen to someone who creates content, is to be ignored. Crickets. It’s the sound of one hand clapping.
I am outspoken and I like it when those who don’t agree with me are outspoken too. If you can dish it, you have to be able to take it. Fair is fair. Actually, when my critics get all worked up and start digging into me in public, it always increases the popularity of my blog. It increases my reach which is an important reason why I blog in the first place.
Remember, apart from being a voice in my community and helping people navigate their lives as creative freelancers, blogging is my way of marketing. The more folks visit my site, the better it is for my Google ranking, and the higher I rank, the easier it is for clients to find me.
So, I really have to thank those who don’t always like what I have to say. They’re doing their best to tell people they shouldn’t listen to me, and the effect is that more people are coming to my website… and listen to me. The same is true on social media.
Now, you may have noticed that my last blog about the voice arts awards nominations ruffled a few feathers, which it was meant to do. I purposely write in a thought-provoking style, pushing a few buttons here and there. As a blogger, I want to elicit a response. That’s why what I have to say will never be vanilla. To some that makes me obnoxious, and others tell me that I say things out loud that they only dare to think.
About theses voice arts awards. One of the things my critics will always bring up as a gotcha… is that my facts are incorrect. Now, here’s something you need to know about blogging and social media. If you want to reach a wide audience, short and succinct is the way to go. People have the attention span of a goldfish these days, and the moment you get lost in details you end up being too long, boring people to sleep.
So, you need to make your points as best as you can as fast as you can, and when you do that, you run the risk over oversimplification. Having to be short means you have to be truthful but you can’t be fully comprehensive which is great for the nitpickers.
So, my Voice Arts Awards post contained a picture of a receipt spelling out the costs of that award. $140 to submit the audio, $475 for the gala and $375 for the statue. And I left open the cost of travel, lodging, food and drinks, as well as lost revenue. The voice arts awards are run by an organization called SOVAS, the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences.
Anyway, one of the people who pushed back at my article wrote:
“You never write any further details on any of your SOVAS obsessive posts. Your ticket Gala picture in your post didn’t include that the gala comes with a pre-party, a 3-course dinner, and a post-party. How much should this all be in your head? BTW, NAVA (the national association of voice actors) just raised their membership prices by a lot. Will you be spreading misinformation on them too? Well?”
So, in a few lines I’m being accused of being obsessed with the voice arts awards and spreading misinformation, and of not going after NAVA.
I am obsessed, that is true. I am obsessed with giving people value for money and not ripping people off. If the One Voice Awards can make it FREE for people to submit; make it so that the winners don’t have to pay for their prize; make the gala free of charge apart from the dinner, why does SOVAS have to charge almost a thousand dollars?
And in terms of misinformation, I wrote back:
“All the information used in my article comes from the SOVAS website and from Charity Navigator. Are you saying these sites spread misinformation? At $475, the gala better include a 3-course dinner catered by Wolfgang Puck plus a lavish party. I’ve never spent that much money on food and festivities. I guess we have very different priorities in life, and that’s okay.
I don’t see what NAVA has to do with all of this. When you look at all they have done this year alone, the new membership price is a bargain. If you happen to go to the One Voice Awards, I hope you have a great time and that you feel your hard-earned money is well spent, whether you win anything or not.”
So, here’s the answer I got (and all of this is on Facebook):
“Again your reporting is half-truths. The Charity Navigator site says it hasn’t updated the SOVAS status since 2014. And to refer to the Society of Voice Arts And Science for questions or information. But since all your info is opinion-based and hearsay, why would you go and ask? After all, you claim to be a journalist, lol. Oh, you mentioned how SOVAS went up in price but since you’re not obsessed with NAVA, I guess their uptick on membership prices, you won’t be reporting on that.”
I always like to check my sources, and I went back to the Charity Navigator website. Check it yourself. Type in SOVAS, and this is what I told my critic:
“The SOVAS Accountability and Finance score of 61 is based on the “Most Recent Fiscal Year 2022.” But rather than questioning why this score isn’t 100, and why SOVAS doesn’t have a 4-star rating (or a conflict of interest policy), you choose to attack me for being “obsessed.” Any charity that has a less than stellar rating deserves scrutiny and needs to give an explanation for why their rating is so low, regardless of who’s running it.
You seem to be concerned about NAVA raising its membership fee (from $125 to $175), but you show no concern for SOVAS running an expensive competition the people at One Voice are able to run for free. If they can do it, why can’t SOVAS? The people at NAVA are working hard on initiatives that benefit the whole industry. They provide online seminars for members, discounted health insurance, and they are lobbying politicians and corporations on our behalf on the topic of AI (nationally and internationally).
Winning a prize at a competition benefits just ONE person: the winner, who has to pay for his or her own prize. BTW, as NAVA vice-president Carin Gilfry can tell you, I have publicly criticized some of her opinions in the past, and we’re still good friends. It’s because both of us realize the value of having critical thinkers in our community who can point out flaws so they can be fixed.”
Now, I’m not sharing this with you to show you what kind of a debater I am. I am showing you this to point out that as a blogger, I see these exchanges as opportunities. Opportunities for dialogue, for clarification, and for reinforcing the points I made in my article. Effective communicators do three things: they say what they are going to say, they say it, and then they remind people of what they have said.
And one more thing about Charity Navigator. Why do we even have an independent website like that, scrutinizing each charity with the same methodology? Because if you donate to a good cause, you want to know that all of your money goes to a reliable organization. An organization that is transparent and accountable. We all know that some charities are scams and that most donations go to running the place and paying the management team instead of to helping people.
If you could spend your hard-earned dollars on a Charity with a 4-star rating (the most a charity can get) or a 2-star rating, what would you do? Again, SOVAS has a 2-star rating. Now, if they don’t like that rating, it is up to them to show proof that they deserve more stars, and I’m sure the people at Charity Navigator would be happy to set the record straight.
IT’S NOT PERSONAL
I just wrote that I welcome my critics, but here’s one thing that almost always happens when I speak out: rather than addressing the points I am making, people start attacking the messenger and ignore my criticism. It is an age-old tactic that is used when the facts are inconvenient or embarrassing. As a journalist, I recognize this strategy from a million miles away. It’s a deflection and a distraction: discredit the source so you don’t have to acknowledge that there’s a problem.
Listen, I know that the Voice Arts Awards are a big deal to some people, and that those who organize it have a lot of fans. Being critical about certain aspects of these awards may feel to some as if I am invalidating their accomplishments. But this is nothing personal. This is about accountability and money.
If you choose to spend a lot of money on one award when there’s another award that could give you the same credits for free, you must have some cash to burn and I hope you enjoy burning it. But please explain to me why one award is apparently worth so much more than the other.
I really don’t get it. Do you?
My blog is being targeted by aggressive spam bots, and so I had to put an equally aggressive spam filter in place. This means that when you comment, you will receive a response that your comment has been flagged as spam. Don’t worry. All I need to do is approve your comment, and it will show up.