When it comes to Twitter, journalists tread a thin line. While a lot of news organizations strongly suggest their reporters sign up for an account and gain followers, many don’t have a written social media policy. Even if you are off the clock, something you share in 140 characters or less can come back to haunt you. Here are eight journalists who should’ve thought twice before hitting the “Tweet” button. (Note: I’m going to post the first four today and the next four later in the week.)
1. Octavia Nasr
One of the better-known cases of a reporter losing her job due to a tweet is Octavia Nasr, formerly CNN’s senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs. In July 2010, Nasr tweeted, “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah … One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.” It was in response to news that the Shiite cleric had died. The now infamous tweet caused a furor among some Israeli supporters and although Nasr apologized, the higher ups at CNN still fired her, saying Nasr’s “credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward.”
The Unnamed Arizona Daily Star ReporterBrian Pedersen*
In September 2010, the Arizona Daily Star fired Brian Pedersen for “inappropriate and unprofessional” tweeting. In several different tweets, Pedersen criticized his paper and another news outlet and negatively commented on Tucson’s homicide rates. The National Labor Relations Bureau just sided with the paper, saying the Daily Star’s firing of Pedersen was lawful. (Check out our sister blog MediaJobsDaily’s review of the case.)
3. Gavin Miller
Australian radio announcer Gavin Miller was canned from his job at a Melbourne-based radio station for “a severe breach of [the station’s] social media policy.” Miller took to his Twitter account earlier this month to call out a Christian lobbyist. On Anzac Day, when Australia and New Zealand honor servicemen who fought in World War I, the lobbyist tweeted previous Australian servicemen didn’t fight for a country that supported gay marriage and Islam. Miller disagreed with the remarks and called the lobbyist a “turd” and other more graphic insults on Twitter. “Social media policy or not, we do not want someone who makes comments like that working at our radio station,” said the station’s acting general manager.
4. Damian Goddard
Damian Goddard, a sports reporter in Canada, lost his job at Rogers Sportsnet earlier this month after tweeting against gay marriage. “I completely and wholeheartedly support Todd Reynolds and his support for the traditional and TRUE meaning of marriage,” Goddard tweeted. The post referenced Todd Reynolds, a hockey agent who publicly criticized a New York Ranger player for appearing in an ad supporting gay marriage. According to CBC News, Goddard’s station later tweeted, “Today’s tweet from Damian Goddard does not reflect the views of Rogers Sportsnet.” He was subsequently let go.
Stay tuned for the second part of “Journalists Who Were Fired for Tweeting.” In the meantime, tell us what other reporters you know of who were canned for posting the wrong tweet.
*Thanks to commenter Dan Gibson for filling me in on who the reporter was.