You Can Plug Anything in the Digital World, Except Yourself

Posted: April 12, 2012 in Personal
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In today’s edition of weird news, I read this story on Gawker about a reporter fired for showing enthusiasm about his job on his Tumblr and WordPress blog.  Where’s the social media love people?  Khristopher J. Brooks was recently hired by the Delaware News-Journal as a reporter.  Brooks, like many of us when we land that job, took to social media to express his excitement, which was actually a “press release” using the news organization’s logo and quotes from the hiring letter. He was fired for those two things.  Okay, I’d like to think Brooks probably dodged a bullet.

Seriously, this is why my life could never be at a newspaper for the long term.  It’s an environment that takes itself way too seriously, and some reporters and editors are just too rigid, uptight, and scared of change a.k.a. digital convergence.  I read plenty of tweets from magazine editors that are opinionated and excited about a cover star or some juicy gossip.

Brooks used a company logo on his Tumblr that could be found anywhere on the Web.  If the executive editor didn’t want to be quoted, then he shouldn’t have written a letter in the first place.  Journalists use this same tactic with politicians whose emails and private correspondence are exposed.  It’s public knowledge, right? I’d probably post a scanned image of an email or letter offering me a job to my Facebook as soon as I see the words “congratulations…you’ve been selected.”

Where do you draw the line with Brooks’ case in asking journalists to use social media to promote content or to use it as a reporting tool only to tell them later to not use it for their own personal news?  Would it have made a difference if he just updated his status to “Just received my hiring letter from executive editor such and such.  I’m so happy I’m now education reporter for the News-Journal.”  It’s still the same thing, right?  Is it because he used a mock press release to announce his good news that it was more offensive?  After all, this was his own personal Tumblr and blog, not the newspaper’s.

Even if you’re a part of a publication or news organization, you still have an identity.  I understand not expressing your political views on social media if you cover politics.  I understand keeping your religious beliefs at bay.  I don’t understand the harm in informing your family and friends of a big venture in your life via social media.  Okay, maybe he should have informed the editor or the newspaper first, but it still wasn’t worth firing him.  Passion + Enthusiasm = No Future at Newspapers, apparently.  It’s a sad day when you get fired for using the same exact skill you were hired for.

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