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Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Many people were deeply shocked by the interview of De Telegraaf, a Dutch newspaper, with Ruben, the sole survivor of a plane crash. A journalist calling a boy that didn't even know that he lost his parents in this terrible accident, let's seriously question this approach. If you look at this situation with the glasses of a Conversation Manager, things only get worse. A good Conversation Manager will be so disappointed in the answer of the editor of the newspaper.

This is part of the statement of the editor after a storm of protest by thousands of consumers: “We’re sorry that among our readers, the feeling exists that De Telegraaf was careless towards the situation of Ruben”.

For the Dutch speaking people, this is the full text:

“Het spijt ons dat er onder onze lezers het gevoel is ontstaan dat De Telegraaf onzorgvuldig heeft gehandeld. Het is nooit onze bedoeling geweest om misbruik te maken van de situatie van Ruben. De hoofdredactie van De Telegraaf hecht eraan te benadrukken dat verslaggeefster Van der Graaf in het onverwacht ontstane telefoongesprek met Ruben niets heeft gezegd over het ongeval en de ernstige familieomstandigheden van het slachtoffer. De Telegraaf heeft tot publicatie besloten omdat Ruben symbool van leven is in deze enorme tragedie. De hoofdredactie respecteert de oproep van het kabinet om terughoudendheid te betrachten in de contacten met nabestaanden.”

Hoofdredactie De Telegraaf vrijdag 14 mei 2010

Why this disappointment? They are not sorry for their mistake! No, they are sorry that their consumers have the feeling like they were disrespectful. It almost sounds like: “hey consumers, you are wrong, we didn’t do anything wrong. Too bad you don’t understand our way of working”.

What’s a better approach? Acknowledge the fact that your journalist went too far and did handle (a bit) opportunistic. Tell people you are sorry that you did take advantage of this situation and that you will remove the article. But as always…a REAL sorry seems to be the hardest word…