Posts Tagged ‘Catherine Deveny’

As we can read in countless news articles, books and how-to stories on websites such as Mashable.com, Twitter seems to be indispensable for today’s journalists. Indeed it can be a useful tool to manage a journalist’s online identity and self-representation.  As Turkle (1995) put it in his introduction to Life on screen: identity in the age of the Internet, ‘in the real-time communities of cyberspace, we are dwellers on the threshold between the real and the virtual, unsure of footing, inventing ourselves as we go.’ Journalists on Twitter are inventing themselves tweet by tweet, blurring the boundaries between the real, such as an article written and published on a news website and often also in the print edition, and the virtual, the discussion evolving on Twitter between followers that are sharing and responding to the original tweet.

But in today’s media culture, where are the boundaries of self-representation for journalists on Twitter? A growing number of contemporary case studies shows that journalistic self-representation ends where the personal opinion starts. In May 2010, Australian comedian Catherine Deveny has been fired as a columnist for The Age after she sent controversial tweets. Although she defended them as ‘satire’, she had been dropped because  ‘the views she has expressed recently on Twitter are not in keeping with the standards […] at The Age,’ as the Editor-In-Chief explained.

Also CNN’s senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs, Octavia Nasr, has been fired from her job in July this year, after tweeting: ‘Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah … One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.’ According to CNN, this politically (un)sensitive message  was an ‘error of judgment’ on her part and that the message did not meet CNN’s editorial standards.

To prevent further damage to their reputation, several newspaper such as the Washington Post and news organizations such as Reuters have released guidelines for the use of social media in journalism that heavily limit the personal use of these tools for journalists and consequently limit their online identities to professional identities .

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