Thursday, October 21, 2010

Friday Media Rant: Decisions, Decisions...

Here’s an issue that I never faced in nearly four decades as a broadcaster: having a company official tell me to take down a post on a Facebook account. I didn’t join Facebook until after I was forcibly retired from the biz a couple years ago. But a friend of mine who’s a TV reporter had to deal with the issue earlier this week.

Seems this friend of mine is very well acquainted with one of the candidates for statewide office, having worked with this person in the past. In the course of doing reporting work, my friend read the biography/resume this candidate had put online, and on a Facebook post, my friend commented that the biography/resume was grossly “stretched”, and that this person was hugely exaggerating in a number of areas.

I’m being deliberately vague here to protect the identities of both, but I think you get the idea.

The powers-that-be at my friend’s TV station became aware of the post, and asked my friend to take it down. I can well imagine that conversation – an on-camera reporter making a social media post clearly derogatory to a candidate for state-wide office. Long story short, my friend removed the post, and replaced it with one saying management at the TV station had asked that it be removed.

I sent a message to my friend, saying it didn’t surprise me that the folks in carpet corridor (management) at the TV station asked that the post be removed. My friend’s response was interesting. My friend said unlike nearly everyone else who has an on-camera job at the station, there is absolutely no “promotion” of work things on the Facebook account. It’s a completely personal Facebook page, and my friend has a personal acquaintance with every single “friend” on the account. Only friends with personal connections are allowed access, no “fans from TV land” who don’t really know my friend. Therefore, my friend was annoyed that management intervened, because ALL of us have opinions.

I would have told “management” to jump in the lake, but that’s one reason I’ve been fired so many times. (Me and Juan Williams, I guess…) What would YOU do?


  1. You are on treacherous ground here, as most media these days have a written "social media policy" that must be followed by reporters, even when commenting as a private person on blogs or Facebook or elsewhere. I have altered some commentary on trustworthy-credible blogs, such as this one, from what I probably would have written, and simply bitten my tongue on others.

  2. We are at war. Not a physical war, like the revolution in France (present) which is violent and physical, but a war against clear middle-class ideology. The fourth estate has been the head of American thought. ‘I believe in the cutting off of heads,’ I remember Marat saying during the most remembered French revolution. The censorship of the fourth estate is not power. It is an admission of failure, an act of despair. We are entering a dark age of Authority. An age where Murder as a state policy is viewed as a virtue (Marquis de Sade), the journalists not only has been censored but murdered. You are lucky to only be fired and attacked economically.

  3. An interesting sidelight to this issue: Republicans have been making noise about de-funding NPR because of the Williams incident. I agree about the de-funding but not because Williams was fired.

    I'm with Jim Babka of who had this to say in a letter to his Congresscritter:

    If someone pointed a gun at you and demanded just one penny from you to pay for things you don't believe in, wouldn't you resent it? Well, that's how I feel about NPR, CfPB, PBS, and the arts and humanities programs. These programs . . .

    * Violate the First Amendment by forcing me to subsidize other people's speech
    * Violate the Ninth Amendment by attacking my freedom of conscience
    * Violate the Tenth Amendment because these subsidies aren't authorized by the Constitution.

    All federal funding of speech and the arts should be terminated IMMEDIATELY.

    That's about the size of it. The posturing members of the Stupid Party should quit with the fake high dudgeon over NPR and focus on what's right: cut it loose to stand or fall on its own.

    The Town Crank