NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - When I was in journalism school, 35 years ago, we talked a lot about credibility.
Credibility is something you build brick by brick, day by day. But it can all come tumbling down with a single mistake.
I've seen that throughout my career. An attention deficit can be a huge burden to a journalist, because although I may have written more interesting copy than my co-workers, I also made mistakes. I paid for them with my jobs, and lost my credibility.
Which I then proceeded to build back, brick by brick and day by day.In the age of social media, we're all journalists. And we all have credibility accounts that can be quickly depleted, based not just on our actions but on how we react to things. When we screw up, it's better to take the hit than to deny the stupid things we do. (UAL - Get Report) United Airlines faced a test of credibility last week. For 15 minutes, it accidentally gave away some tickets booked at its Web site. Purchasers paid only the 9/11 security fee, totaling $5 or $10. The airline decided, after some consideration, to honor the tickets. The result was stories such as this one, on a Patch site near the company's Chicago headquarters. It was about a family getting a Disneyland vacation for just $60. The goodwill from stories like that, United concluded, was worth the financial hit. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics estimates there are 643 million passengers booked each year on U.S. airlines. That's about 1.76 million per day. Given United's 15.8% market share, we can figure it got about 278,000 of them.