Last week, many TV news watch groups tweeted an article about an ND being criticized and then apologizingfor something he wrote on his personal Facebook page.  Now he has resigned.

The facts of the case itself are compelling, but let’s go beyond to the larger issue.  This is a personal FB page.  This is the leader of a newsroom being criticized.  Again, it points to the fact that in some newsrooms management itself is not clear on what is or is not acceptable online.  If an ND didn’t think twice about these comments on his personal FB page, can he expect the same of his staff?

This reminds us, how very public the internet is.  Many of us think our FB pages are being read by friends only.  In actuality, the internet is extremely voyeuristic.  People love to read what others have to say, even if they don’t know them.  It’s is a large part of the appeal.  Not everyone is simply curious.  Some have axes to grind.  Remember: (a) Journalists are not always held in high regard and therefore are scrutinized more and (B) Journalists are sometimes held in very high regard but not given opportunities by the public to make “honest mistakes.”  We are expert communicators right?

The other interesting element is that the news director says he did not realize how “poor the choice of words were.”  Remember, opinions can put you in hot water.  This is especially true if you are a journalist who is expected to “know better.”

Finally, this story makes you stop and think about social media policies within companies.  Many still do not have one.  That actually makes it easier for journalists to face a backlash even for their non-work sites.  What’s happening with this ND is a good scenario to bring up to your bosses and ask how a situation like that would be handled where you work.  It might offer new insight into management’s views on internet use, period.  After all, media companies are reading about the criticism of this ND’s comments on his personal FB page.  It could serve as an example to help mold future policies all of us must live with.

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