Mid-east editor leaving CNN

Another cautionary tale for journalists everywhere:  watch what you say, blog, tweet, etc. especially if you cover a controversial topic like the Middle East.

Last month, veteran reporter Helen Thomas retired after saying that Jews should get out of Palestine.  Last weekend, a more behind-the-scenes journalist, CNN middle-east editor Octavia Nasr stepped into controversy via twitter.  She posted:

Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.

Fadallah advocated for the destruction of Israel, and supported terror attacks here and in Israel.  Obviously, a tremendous lapse in judgement in 140 characters or less from Nasr.  She tried to explain herself in a blog post July 6, but it was too late.  Damage done, career over.

Social media means that what journalists say/think can be heard over and over again.  Helen Thomas’ remarks made it to YouTube – the second-largest search engine in the world.  It was only matter a time.  Tweets go around the world in seconds.

BBC had a good interview this morning on this story – I was in and out of sleep, but I remember a couple of things:

  • in the old days, what you said couldn’t go everywhere instantly.  A byline was often the only knowledge folks had about journalists.
  • Social media has great ability to share story and humanize people who otherwise seem unreachable by the average person (could this be the reason LeBron James had over 235,000 followers as of noon yesterday?) Hmm…

Bottom line:  be careful out there folks.

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Posted in New Media

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