UPDATE | Telstra’s Rod Bruem has contacted me and says he is ‘not sure what happened to [that] comment’ and suggested I resubmit it.
UPDATE | Telstra has modified Rod Bruem’s blog post and removed the gratuitous ‘ja’.
For the last week or so, I’ve been engaged in an interesting debate with Telstra PR staffer Rod Bruem, “Editor in Chief” of Telstra’s blog NowWeAreTalking.
He posted a snide attack on telecommunications analyst Paul Budde, but what really amazed me was a quote from Budde he included which drew attention to Budde’s Dutch origins.
He was also telling anyone who’d listen that FTTN wasn’t needed anyway, “nobody else in the world was doing it, ja?”
The article called for responses, so I posted:
So what do I think? I think mocking Paul Budde’s dutch origins — “nobody else in the world was doing it, ja?” — is a weak-minded way of arguing a case. Next time you want to lash out at someone who expresses frustration with the all-American approach taken by Telstra’s management team, you’d better bite your tongue and remember that you guys have used the race card when it suited you.
Bruem’s response was, in part: “Oh C’mon Dan! I know you work for a PC Magazine, but do you have to be so seriously PC?” and then he justified his comment by the fact that a lot of people had called Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo and his management team “amigos”.
Another person, posting under an incomplete name, said that I’d missed the point of the article completely.
“Paul H: I didn’t miss the point of the article. I was just astonished that a professional corporate spokesman would introduce racial mockery into what constitutes an official corporate statement. It suggested to me that Rod had lost his professional discipline as a corporate spokesman. Maybe he is getting carried away with his sense of self importance as “Editor in Chief” of a blog.”
“Dan, in case you hadn’t noticed I’m taking a break from the corporate spokesman role to edit this website so the views freely expressed here aren’t official company lines. I completely rejct your assertion that my comment was racist. It certainly wasn’t intended to be. If you took it that way and you’re offended then I’m sorry for you. As you’re obviously a self-appointed expert on the subject, I now expect you to police all those people referring to the Mexican Bandit, ‘Amigos” and similar. If you have already then I’m sorry I missed it.”
However, my final comment submitted to the debate was deleted [or never displayed], presumably by Rod “Editor in Chief” Bruem.
I attempted to post a comment along the lines of:
“Rod, if you think that a Telstra blog, operated on a domain owned by Telstra and run by Telstra staff is not comment that is legally bound to Telstra, then you’ve been given bad advice. I wasn’t offended by the post. It’s not about me; it’s about you and your role as a professional corporate spokesman.You could have just said Budde had said “nobody else in the world was doing it” and that would have supported your case factually, but instead you appended a Dutch word to the end of the comment. Why?”
But the comment never appeared. [I emailed Rod to ask whether he’d be displaying that comment and got no reply.]
I asked Paul Budde what he thought and he commented: “I think it is very sad that Telstra needs to sink so low in trying to get their message across.”
“Telstra needs its own site to lash out at its critics as the rest of the country, press, commentators, etc. [discussing the issue] in a more democratic fashion apparently don’t agree with them. They are even prepared to pay an employee to do their bashing and it looks to me that many of its employees then add their bits to it as well. Strange way of talking to the rest of the country.”
When Telstra launched NowWeAreTalking it made a big show of the fact that it respected all stakeholders’ input and wouldn’t censor based on opinion. Now, when Telstra says it has “changed the conversation with NowWeAreTalking”, I can’t help wondering if it means it literally.