National Post apologizes for reporter’s Twitter tantrum

Some people see Twitter as a form of instant messaging. But those people can quickly forget that what you say on Twitter is just as public (if not moreso) than what you post on Facebook.

National Post technology reporter David George-Cosh learned that the hard way today when an expletive-filled argument he had with a source on Twitter was publicized (and republicized and republicized), making him (and the paper) look pretty bad.

The result, mere hours later, was an apology posted to the Post’s Editors blog (which doesn’t name the reporter it’s apologizing for, nor the person it’s apologizing to, nor the nature of the conduct, but who needs specifics for these things?). (Via Regret the Error)

Reporters are human, and like everyone else they’ll have off days and they’ll get into arguments. But when they happen online, those arguments can easily become public, and this is probably not the last time we’ll see apologies for personal conduct of people associated with media.

In this case, the reporter’s actions were in a professional capacity (which makes it the paper’s problem), but I wonder when the time will come where reporters, columnists and other public figures associated with a publication’s brand will have clauses in their contracts about what they can post to their Facebook profiles, personal blogs or other public and semi-public forums online.

UPDATE: April Dunford, the victim of the tirade, has similar thoughts on her blog.

UPDATE (Feb. 12): More reaction from Roberto Rocha and a let’s-attack-the-victim post from ZDNet’s Jennifer Leggio (which gets its basic premise wrong). Additional commentary from Mathew Ingram and the Telegraph’s Shane Richmond.

UPDATE (May 25): Three months later, George-Cosh writes about the “incident” on his blog, saying he’s learned some hard lessons, though he still makes excuses for his behaviour.

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