Despite the allure of entertainment impresario Russell Simmons at the helm, GlobalGrind.com has unfortunately developed into nothing more than one of several uninventive, uninspiring aggregators that are cluttering up the internet. A poorly thought-out bootleg idea with little ingenuity, the site often delivers sloppy execution and, as evidenced by a recent event, an irresponsible approach to the dissemination of information.
Built essentially to jam as much content as possible onto its e-pages, GlobalGrind chases and regurgitates trending, entertainment and gossip items, utilizing controversial tactics not to facilitate the delivering of information vital to the public, but strictly to whore itself out for increased page views.
This is great if you are a blogger, or a celebrity that just likes to post up interesting things, or a Hot 97 DJ (for example) where you (often) just copy and paste entire articles from other sources.
It is acceptable in those cases because no one considers any of these sources as “news” sources. The tone and content of these sites are generally entertaining, and they become simply convenient sources of information their fans will probably like, since gossip bloggers, celebrities and DJs tend to have a finger on the pulse of their audience.
The problem is when larger organizations, in this case GlobalGrind, which actively takes a serious tone and political position regarding many issues, purports themselves to be a reputable media source, but lacks journalistic values or integrity.
The problem is when larger organizations like GlobalGrind, knowing they have hundreds of thousands of impressionable folks within their reach, fails to act responsibly, and deceives those folks.
The problem is when a larger organization, knowing that its founder is so well respected that folks will often follow (and repeat) with star-struck abandon whatever message is relayed to them, chooses to ignore or abuse that power in an embarrassing, unethical and dangerous manner.
During the final hours of the Troy Davis saga in Georgia, Russell Simmons and GlobalGrind co-president Michael Skolnik publicly issued messages of support for the convicted man in his bid to reverse his death sentence.
In their typical monopolistic fashion, GlobalGrind the entity, also expressed the same sentiments.
Surprise, surprise. But that’s only part of the problem.
While GlobalGrind’s mission (and tagline) is an ever-changing-to-fit-their-needs-at-the-moment type of thing, they purport to provide “a platform for an active, multicultural audience to consume and interact with compelling content and unique digital experiences.”
They call themselves, “the eyes, ears and voice of this multi-racial, active and engaged audience.”
Sounds great on paper. Of course, the way they represent this multi-racial, active and engaged audience is an embarrassment on any given day.
Back in 2010, I called them out for, among other things, the sexual exploitation of a minor.
For page views.
Previous to that, as also mentioned in that piece, Patrick O’Keefe wrote an incredibly detailed piece on how GlobalGrind was committing an egregious breach of conduct by “scraping” content from other creators, a process that at best was unethical, and at worst, illegal copyright infringement.
Despite some reported attempts to clean up that issue, and Simmons’ reportedly lecturing GlobalGrind staff on journalistic integrity (over a gossip piece about Rihanna!?), GlobalGrind continues to commit eye-opening errors in judgment.
Many people were paying attention at 7:00 p.m. when Troy Davis’ execution was to take place. The case had drawn significant worldwide media attention. Because of the circumstances, it was certainly warranted. Many people, myself included, thought there might be a decision to set aside his execution.
After a last ditch attempt at a stay by the Georgia Supreme Court was denied, Davis appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, to be heard the same day of his scheduled death.
Word of this got out, and because there was this one last chance for Davis, many were holding their breath as 7:00 p.m. came and went.
As was I.
I work in the news business. I’m very plugged in to official news sources and social media “chatter,” all of which I was actively monitoring.
7:05 p.m. There was no official word.
7:08 p.m. Still no official word. But in the matrix of the internet, “stay of execution” flashed by, “Supreme Court” whizzed past. Simultaneously checking official sources, I scanned social media.
“Troy Davis got a stay of execution,” said one random Facebook user. Then another. A few more with similar assurances. Many seemed elated. Some thanked Jesus.
Personally, I was pleased. I typed on my status update, “Wow! I’m hearing they granted Troy Davis a stay of execution!”
But I didn’t post it. Instinctually, I took a moment to fact-check.
I scanned around again. Still nothing official. Odd.
Then in my twitter timeline:
GlobalGrind: **BREAKING NEWS** Troy Davis receives stay of execution. Developing…
I knew that Simmons (and by nepotistic extension, GlobalGrind) had been pretty plugged into the ongoing events, but I also know GlobalGrind’s sloppy history. I would never consider GlobalGrind a go-to source of information, but it was certainly worth investigating.
So again, I checked official news sources. Nothing. I erased my status update, skeptical. I doubted that GlobalGrind scooped anyone, but I was pretty sure that if they were right, real news sources would be reporting the same, after taking the time to actually verify the fact before reporting it of course.
Let me rephrase that.
Real news sources check the facts before opening their mouths and telling 100,000 people that something happened, when it didn’t.
And therein lies the crux of the issue.
GlobalGrind alone has nearly 110,000 Twitter followers.
Russell Simmons, whose twitter stream broadcasted the same “BREAKING NEWS” message, has nearly one million.
Busta Rhymes retweeted Russell. There’s an added 620,000. Missy Elliot retweeted Busta who retweeted Russell. She has 460,000 followers.
Meaning that at least 2.2 million people, active, multicultural people, were lied to by a source that tries very hard to portray itself as a trustworthy source of information.
There is a huge problem with that.
It turns out that the U.S. Supreme Court asked for time to look at Davis’ final appeal. It was a delay, not a stay. Legally, Georgia could still have carried out the execution at any time after 7:00 p.m., but they waited for the nine Supreme Court justices to make their decision.
Somewhat inexplicably (at the time of this writing anyway), this process, which normally takes very little time, took several hours, adding to the anxiety of supporters.
Many of these people may indeed have had their hopes momentarily raised, in part due to GlobalGrind’s shameful and disgraceful broadcast of that initial falsehood.
While to some this may be a small event in the grand scheme of things, in actuality, the danger of an integrity-free media source is a frightening one, and must not be taken lightly.
We’ve already seen news organizations targeted by Twitter hackers, spreading dangerous lies, as in the case of the FOX News account that reported President Obama had been killed.
In most cases, such rumors can be easily squashed by semi-intelligent web surfers, but as one who often monitors web chatter based on trending items, the amount of people, particularly our youth, who take what dribbles down their Twitter timeline or Facebook wall as law, is staggering.
Revolution without education is chaos. While I support many of the efforts that they attempt to shed light on, how can Russell Simmons and GlobalGrind be expected to positively influence their audience about the causes they champion, when they are actively contributing to the continued dumbification of that same audience, while spreading unverified information as fact?
GlobalGrind is already a heavily biased source, and in the big picture, seems to exist at least partially to further some shrouded Simmons/Skolnik agenda.
And that’s fine.
But it is inappropriate and irresponsible for any site with the reach and influence that GlobalGrind has developed to purport to be a news source, a place where people should be turning to for hard, breaking news, when there is little to no editorial oversight.
Since GlobalGrind was incapable of properly reporting news to their audience, what they should have done is said, “This is too important in issue to whore for page views,” and advised their audience to follow the real news for developments.
Regardless how some might feel about mainstream media, especially when covering such a polarizing issue, the fact is that people who did rely on mainstream news received accurate information. People who instead trusted GlobalGrind, or any of the 2.2 million people who blindly repeated their broadcasted untruth, didn’t.
Make no mistake. The false spread of information can be as damning to the public as oppressed information.
And attempting to cover up their error by deleting the original tweet, which they did, does not erase the issue.
With this latest misstep, GlobalGrind again crossed a line that further tarnishes the reputation of Simmons and Skolnik. Since Skolnik is Simmons’ “political adviser,” perhaps the two of them should consider the possible effects on future efforts in that arena that could be jeopardized by these types of embarrassing lapses in judgment.
If GlobalGrind is truly serious about delivering newsworthy information to the masses, they must learn to act more responsibly, and not allow these types of irresponsible practices to continue to be executed on their behalf by a staff that seemingly does not fully understand the grown-up world of internet publishing.
All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.
- William Bernbach, of DDB Needham Worldwide, 1989.