AD AGE WEEKLY POLL GETS GAWKERED

Bloggers Rally to Out Vote Employers

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The tally of this week's Ad Age online poll indicates that 85% of the voters are in favor of employees' unrestrained reading of blogs on their employer's time.
Gawker.com sounded a call to all bloggerdom, summoning the faithful to the AdAge.com voting page.
The Original Story That Started it All:
WHAT BLOGS COST AMERICAN BUSINESS
In 2005, Employees Will Waste 551,000 Years Reading Them

But wait, that may not be full story.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened to our poll this week: We were Gawkered.

Getting out the vote
Shortly before our weekly Advertising Age survey about blog reading at work was to close Nov. 3, Gawker.com plastered the top six inches of its home page with a headline and garphic warning: “A Disaster Awaits at AdAge.com.” That included a screen grab of our voting page with its question: “Should employers allow their staff to read blogs in the workplace?”

The poll question was a follow up to a report by Advertising Age editor at large Bradley Johnson, who wrote that about 35 million workers -- or one in four people in the U.S. labor force -- spend an average of 3.5 hours a week reading blogs on the job.

Hinting at the dire threat such poll results could pose to all bloggerdom, Gawker proclaimed: “You’ve got little more than two hours, kids. Go vote, vote, vote, vote before companies take Krucoffing to the next level -- you know, because they all listen to what unscientific surveys tell them to do -- and make decisions that would hurt us (traffic! ads! income!) and, even more, you (must actually do work!).” (“Krucoffing” refers to Andrew Krucoff, the freelance research analyst at Conde Nast who was terminated last month for leaking an internal company document to Gawker.com.)

Swift and impressive response
The response of the bloggian hordes to Gawker’s call was as swift as it was impressive. Before the Gawker post, the AdAge.com vote tally was running 58% against employees reading of non-work-related blogs during working hours. But within minutes after the post, that began to change. By the time the poll closed 120 minutes later, the tally was 85% in favor of allowing unlimited blog reading by employees.

But the final, lopsided vote belied the broader mix of the sentiment echoed in more than 120 reader comments. Some, like Aaron Atkinson, owner of GrowthInc of Idaho Falls, Idaho, indicated that they favor quite restrictive office policies. “Blogs,” wrote Mr. Atkinson, “must be approved by management as having to do with the job at hand. Computer privileges could be jeopardized by visiting unauthorized sites.”

Work ethic?
For others, it was a moral issue. “Whatever happened to the concept of having a work ethic?” asked Siobhan Marks, managing director, Brand Thirty-Three, Milwaukee.

N. Charles Henss Jr., who runs his own company in Chicago, seemed resigned to the reality of it all. "While employers can track employees' Web usage, and thus enforce bans, any employer who does so will be seen as overbearing and oppressive," he wrote.

Yet others saw blogs as a useful workplace tools. Amanda Gosling, VP and account director at Draft, New York, noted: "I would rather embrace and manage the curiosity of employees. Being aware of issues beyond the borders of one's job can enhance your effectiveness."

'Changing media landscape'
Prashanth Mysoor, partner at Shanth Interactive in Los Angeles, argued that “ee actually encourage our staff to read blogs, listen to podcasts and stay abreast of the changing media landscape.”

Waxing somewhat more sarcastically in the same vein, Tom Messner, partner at Euro RSCG, New York, noted that even "if employees don’t read blogs, they might turn to Dante, Dostoevsky, or Twain. Then the employers might really be in trouble.”

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Hoag Levins is the executive producer of AdAge.com.

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