Facebook post by TV news director sparks firestorm

By Cory Bergman 

I think most journalists understand that we should be careful what we tweet from on our personal accounts, but it was Facebook that sparked a firestorm over at KQDS in Duluth, Minnesota. According to TVSpy, news director Jason Vincent posted a status update on Facebook that read, “Add drunk, homeless, Native American man to the list of animals that have wandered into my yard.”

Vincent was on vacation at the time, and he removed the posting. But someone took a screen grab and passed it around. Now protesters (right) are circling in front of the station — with rival TV stations there to cover it. “Jason Vincent has apologized for making his statement on Facebook,” KQDS general manager Jackie Bruenjes told TVSpy in a statement. “Jason was on personal time.”

(Update: He has since resigned over it all.)

But there is no “personal time” for journalists on social media, both in markets large and small. Sure, you can write all about the lunch you had, but remember everything you post — even among your Facebook “friends” after a couple drinks — should be considered public and sourced to your professional position. I always ask myself, would I say this in front of a room full of journalists? Would I mind if a blog quoted it, using my professional title?

This is old hat for most journalists, but the KQDS episode is a great reminder that even semi-private, social media channels can become public very quickly.