Boothe's 4202 Blog

How the Internet and Technology is changing Editing

Publications burning themselves by firing reporters for Twitter slip-ups

with 2 comments

It’s a shame to think that journalists are losing their jobs over their interactions on social media sites.

A couple weeks ago I sat down for an interview with a prospective writer at the Alligator and she told me the reason she was having to move to another job was because she was just fired for something she tweeted.

When pressed, the woman finally admitted she had placed quite a few profanity-laced personal tweets alongside her some of her work posts about UF sports. She was let go by her editor as soon as he saw the tweets because they were  supposedly unprofessional and in poor taste.

While I’ve heard about other reporters also being burned recently for not being savvy and intelligent users of social media, this case felt especially disappointing because the woman said she would never go on Twitter again and had permanently closed her account.

As Sree Sreenivasan, dean of student affairs at Columbia Journalism School, points out, social media “should fit into your work flow and your life flow.” Others have correctly pointed out that any breaking story that’s properly reported will probably originate on a social media site like Twitter.

The publications currently propagating a strict social media policy which cracks down on personal posting are extremely short-sighted. In essence, readers are flocking to Twitter and Facebook to find a more personal touch in their own news gathering. If they don’t agree with something in a story or want to raise another point, they have the ability to contribute by simply pressing the reply button.

Firing journalists for mistakes stemming from social media is hard for me to rationalize in most cases I read about. It seems that almost everyone using the sites are still trying to experiment with their uses anyway, so I would assume slip-ups and dumb choices are going to be made.

Any outlet that doesn’t realize this will have a lot of catching up to do over the next several years as their competition trends to an increasingly open and interactive newsroom.

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Digital / Social Media Tools: 

While I haven’t used Google Trends in probably the last six months to help with a story, I always enjoy plugging in a couple names to see what people are talking about more right now. Trends can be a great tool to gauge when readers are historically most interested in certain types of cyclical storylines as well. Google Correlate, however, is somewhat new to me but it appears to be a little more of a in-depth tool than Trends. For instance, if I was doing a story on a potential flu breakout in my town, I could go to Google Correlate to see when and where other people were searching for flu treatments.

For my Google Trends search I went with “Bobby Petrino” just to see how the coach’s firing last night spiked the overall searches of his name.

In Google Correlate, I searched NCAA expecting to get spikes at different periods of college sports scandals like the Reggie Bush USC case, Nevin Shapiro at Miami and most recently Bobby Petrino at Arkansas. Instead, the graph looked extremely repetitive each year around March signifying a huge jump in searches for the NCAA Tournament.

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Written by jboothe

April 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Excellent – like the anecdote of the fired reporter. New ways to lost your job.

    Ronald R. Rodgers

    April 12, 2012 at 10:36 am

  2. […] by Boothe’s 4202 Blog and is available to view here. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. ← NPR’s […]


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