14 February, 2015

How A Blog Post Did What TV, Newspapers And Communications Professionals Failed To Do

In November 2014 Acting Director of the West Virginia Division of Labor, John Junkins, sent "emergency" wage and hour rules to Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. These rules, had they become law, would have required employers to compensate employees for all manner of things that are not compensable under current law.

Almost nobody in Old Media reported it. Many of them didn't know about these proposed emergency rules until they heard about it from me via email.

So-called “communication directors” at business organizations didn’t send media releases to the Old Media.

So how did I learn about the proposed “emergency” wage and hour changes? I read about the emergency rules on a blog. 

As a liberal, I actually liked some of the emergency rules but I didn't like how the Division of Labor tried to sneak them into law between legislative sessions. Had it not been for the blogger and the resultant last-minute tsunami of angry letters to Gov. Tomblin generated by that blogger, these emergency wage and hour laws would have been enacted automatically without any action at all from the legislature. 

The blog that roused employers to write angry letters to the governor was Steptoe-Johnson law firm's "Employment Essentials" blog. Lawyer Rodney Bean wrote the post that reported what Old Media largely failed to report. Employers killed the proposed emergency rules by sending the link to Bean's post out to other employers via Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and old-fashioned email and asking them to write to the governor and explain why these emergency rules would be bad for business. 

When I started emailing Charleston newspaper reporters and TV stations to ask them why they weren't reporting on the "emergency" wage and hour rules proposed by John Junkins, some of them told me they knew about it but hadn't reported it but most told me this was the first they'd heard of it and asked me to send them the blog link. 

Most of them never reported on the proposed wage and hour law small business owners were Tweeting and emailing the blog link to their friends who, in turn, wrote letters to the governor and sent the blog link to their friends who also wrote letters to the governor.

This is the power of blogging. You don't need an FCC license, a printing press or a TV transmitter to stop a bureaucrat from sneaking new laws onto the books between legislative sessions. 

Higginbotham At Large is not affiliated with the Steptoe-Johnson  law firm and has not been paid for mentioning the "Employment Essentials" blog or attorney Rodney Bean.. 

Higginbotham At Large does not read or publish pseudonymous or anonymous comments. When you click the "submit" button your comment is not yet published it is merely sent to me for my approval or deletion. Commenters who hide behind "handles", nicknames or other pseudonyms will not see their comments published here. If readers won't know who you are, I will delete your comment. No Ring of Gyges for you. I like email addresses that include the submitter's actual name like mine does: JosephHigginbotham@gmail.com.

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