CNN Fires Senior Employee Over a Tweet. Personally, I think …

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Social media has been a game changer. It’s made us rethink how we like our news delivered. How we prefer to communicate with each other. And how we portray ourselves to the world. Personal brands are no longer resigned to the famous.

For many of us our personal brands are connected to our professional identities. For example, my handle on Twitter is @AnnetteatAlstin. I use Twitter to share happenings at Alstin, links back to this blog, contests we’re running and all around interesting HR or social media news I come across. Sometimes though, that can be a little monotonous. I tweet more personal sidebars about my comings and goings at work too — a great restaurant I tried in Center City for lunch, a funny video, or being stuck on a late Septa train. It all needs to be pretty innocuous stuff because these tweets are not all about me, it’s all about me at Alstin.

Read this tweet from former CNN Senior Editor of Mideast Affaris, Octavia Nasr who was using this Twitter handle, @OctaviaNasrCNN:

Nasr, who invested 20 years of her career at CNN, was ultimately fired for her tweet about Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah who has been described by the AP as, “staunchly anti-American and linked to bombings that killed more than 260 Americans.”

After her firing Nasr posted an explanation, apology and remorse for her tweet saying:

It was an error of judgment for me to write such a simplistic comment and I’m sorry because it conveyed that I supported Fadlallah’s life’s work. That’s not the case at all. It’s something I deeply regret.

Her firing has been controversial. Stephen M. Walt, a professor of International Relations at Harvard Kennedy School, pointed out in an editorial, “plenty of American journalists and politicians have shown ‘respect’  for various world figures with hands far bloodier … but it didn’t cost them their jobs.”

Thinking back on my blog discussing  the ”Cisco Fatty” tweet and the importance social media policies (and common sense), my first question on all this was:  What are CNN’s social media guidelines for employees?

 So I Googled, found their policy and it reads:

Don’t list preferences regarding political parties or newsmakers that are the subject of CNN reporting. Unless given permission to comment publicly on the issues or people we report on as a CNN analyst or commentator, it is important that you and all other CNN employees be independent and objective regarding the news and people that we cover. If you publicly declare your preference for issues or candidates or one side or the other of the public policy issues CNN reports on, then your ability to be viewed as objective is compromised.

With the delicate balance of reporting in the Middle East, it seems that Nasr is correct in copping to making an error in judgment. Even with very clear social media policies, I don’t think we’ve seen the first or the last of these sort of firings in the forseable future. We are human after all. In the mean time though, please, whatever you do,  don’t follow any of these examples.


About Annette DeHaven

Annette DeHaven, Alstin's Vice President, Operations, serves as right hand woman for an impressive roster of clients. Known for addressing problems head-on, Annette, who's led by example for more than 15 years, remembers crazy statistics, regularly spouts off mind-bending metrics, and recalls just about every field description for birds you've never heard of.