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Friday, March 16, 2007

Tips on How NOT to Fight Criticism

eSchool News offers a tip to school board officials on how to handle criticism of their policies. In sum, don't do what Pamela Greenbaum did:
According to an article in the Nassau Herald, Greenbaum was "horrified" by the remarks and the blog's purported readership of 300,000 visitors annually.

Unfortunately, by taking legal action, she has managed to elevate the controversy from a local dispute to the global blogosphere.

A quick Google search yielded another 135,000 results, and the story has jumped from niche newspapers to the mainstream--and national--press.

The moral of the story is that public officials, especially elected school board members, need to have thicker skins.

The law clearly favors free speech, and proving malice--a requirement in libel--is tough. Meanwhile, Orthomom's readership and her folk hero status continue to rise.

Even bloggers who disagree with her viewpoints are coming to Orthomom's defense. "Public debate and the fostering of open communications--particularly in the forum of public education--is not only useful, but absolutely necessary," said a recent post on the Community Alliance blog. "Though unfortunate that some would stoop to name-calling and ad hominem attacks, those in the public's line of fire (as is Trustee Greenbaum) must learn to either take the heat or stay out of the kitchen."

Ignoring bloggers and other citizen journalists clearly isn't the answer, however. Remember John Kerry and the Swift Boat controversy? Kerry assumed the mainstream media--and voters--wouldn't consider the anonymous and unproven allegations credible. When he finally started fighting back, his campaign had already derailed.

A better approach, public relations experts say, is to aggressively and proactively tell your side of the story--and engage the community in the issues.
It would have been nice had Pamela Greenbaum tried to "engage the community in the issues", but apparently, that is not something she is at all interested in doing. Why, isn't it so much easier to lash out at your critics with frivolous legal action than actually try to rationally, intelligently, and reasonably explain why they're wrong?

Also: The NY Sun reports on the lawsuit.

37 Comments:

Anonymous ps parent said...

Great article. Pamela Greenbaum has shown that she is unwilling to speak on the issues. And I say this as public school parent who wishes this lawsuit had never happened.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the other old mantra. If you can't attack the message, attack the messenger.

I think this article will printed in their national paper, which is mailed to every school district in the country. Glad to see one of our board members embarassing us in the press. I'm a public school parent, and this is humuliating.

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Public school parent here too. I can say that this article shows Pam to be a laughingstock. Why couldn't she just stick to helping our kids? This makes her look silly. we can all read, and its clear that orthomom's attorney has demolished this case. So what the gain here? Who's idea was this anyhow? The Robbins? Feder? Pam herself? Stan Kopilow (as an attorney, he should know better)?

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Robbins? I don't think so and resent the comment. This is why we lose every election. Because we fight amongst ourselves.

Pam is a big girl and made that decision on her own.

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Pam may be a big girl, but she is a big girl that lost herself my vote. I am embarassed by her behavior, for her as well as for us. Anyone who visits this site cannot expect to make a case that the bloghost has ever said anything libelous. You may not like what OM has to say about the school district, but she always says rational things. What's wrong with "our side" that we can't respond rationally to a little harmless devils advocacy?

That's what loses us election after election. Our inability to take any criticism at all without imploding. I go to the public school gatherings and orthomom is vilified like some monster. Do you actually read her posts? Do they even make you think?? Has anyone here ever looked into whether the private school steudents get a fair shake when it comes to special ed? Is there something wrong with giving them the same busing services our kids get?

The public school community ("my" side) has to take a long hard look at themselves. This disgusting attitude toward any dissent, no mater how respectfully stated (anyone care to show me an example of orthomom being disrespectful on this issue? I have looked and loked and not found one instance) has dug our kids deeper and deeper into the pit. Time to start digging out.

6:18 PM  
Blogger YMedad said...

Hundreds of thousands of references, hits, results or what-not? Gee, OM has skyrocketed. Yishar kochech.

7:59 PM  
Blogger YMedad said...

Sorry, but I just had to take advantage: my posting. All the best!

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree. As a public school parent, I want to see greater representation of the public school community on our Board. But Pam is making things worse. Rather than trying to work for improvements, she's getting into little tit for tat battles. This latest lawsuit debacle has only made it move to embarrassing.

Pam, please don't run again. Let's elect a public school candidate we can respect, and one that will not waste our time creating frivolous suits against blog postings.

8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. And we know that these comments are actually not Orthodox because they were left on Shabbos. I guess Pam really screwed this one up. I don;t know who in teh world could have advised her that this is a proper course of action. Did anyone read the brief OM's fancy lawyer filed? There is zero wiggle room there for a case. What could they have been thinking? That this would rally the public school community and get them out to vote at long last? Well, if their attempts at thinly veiled anti-Orthodoxy didn't work in the past, why would a meritless lawsuit?

9:24 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Gee, anonymous 9:24, thanks for stinking up a very intellectually honest and refreshingly introspective comment thread with your patronizing observations, empty headed legal analysis, and tired anti-orthodoxy hysteria. Feel free to stop dropping by any time...

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, SW. In response to anon 9:24, the posts you were referring to should demonstrate that for most public school parents, it was never about "us v. them". FYI, we didn't just wake up and smell the coffee after reading OM's attorney's brief.

There are fringe extremists in any group of people with some commonality. Most people don't fall into that category...hence "fringe" and "extremists". But by all means, keep fueling the fire if that's what rocks your boat.

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There are fringe extremists in any group of people with some commonality. Most people don't fall into that category...hence "fringe" and "extremists". But by all means, keep fueling the fire if that's what rocks your boat."

Yes, there are. And now we see that Pam Greenbaum is one of those fringe members.

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Robbins? I don't think so and resent the comment. This is why we lose every election. Because we fight amongst ourselves.

The Robbins may resent the comment, but the comments here are right on target. Our "public school candidates" have failed to serve the interests of our kids or anyone in the district, and as much as they like to paint Mansdorf as "public enemy #1," he has always shown an interest in doing what's best for the kids, while maybe not what's best for certain special interests that other board members stand for.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Infamous Robbins said...

Do me a favor and don't throw my name in the mix of the stupidity of others.

We have nothing to do with Pam or her suit. It is agreed that there are bigger issues to deal with and work out.

However, if everyone is so confident of their comments, why be anonymous? Why is it so important for Orthomom and the other Public and Private school posters to hide their identity? Very cowardly.

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


However, if everyone is so confident of their comments, why be anonymous? Why is it so important for Orthomom and the other Public and Private school posters to hide their identity? Very cowardly.


You call it cowardly, I call it my right under the First Amendment. Potatoes, potahtoes.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"However, if everyone is so confident of their comments, why be anonymous? Why is it so important for Orthomom and the other Public and Private school posters to hide their identity? Very cowardly."

Oh, I don't know - maybe they think they'll get death threats. But how could such a crazy idea have gotten into their heads in the first place?

(in case you were wondering, yes that was sarcastic)

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dont forget,
Public School parents include the Sussmans.

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"However, if everyone is so confident of their comments, why be anonymous? Why is it so important for Orthomom and the other Public and Private school posters to hide their identity? Very cowardly."

Oh, I don't know - maybe they think they'll get death threats. But how could such a crazy idea have gotten into their heads in the first place?


Right. Either that or they will get sued.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's the LTA putting up in this election?

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a public school parent, I wish Pam would spend as much energy on fixing the problems in our schools and getting back to providing a sould education for my chiildern. I've supported her in the past but may have difficulty supporting her again unless she starts working openly for the students in lawrence.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a private school parent, I think the "public school community" should try to find some candidates who aren't just obstructionists and actually want to work together to make the system better for everyone, regardless of who "controls" the school board.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Infamous Robbins said...

Do me a favor and don't throw my name in the mix of the stupidity of others.

We have nothing to do with Pam or her suit. It is agreed that there are bigger issues to deal with and work out.

However, if everyone is so confident of their comments, why be anonymous? Why is it so important for Orthomom and the other Public and Private school posters to hide their identity? Very cowardly.

4:33 PM


Cowardly? I'm sorry, but I didn't see you post your name and valid email address. Practice what you preach!

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lets not forget that most of the anonymous posters are Orthomom ,Mansdorff and Sussman.
Signed,
Larry Gordon

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, we won't forget that.
Signed,
Annette Robbins

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