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Monday, July 25, 2005

The Hot New Trend…

Posted by on July 25 at 8:00 AM

…that I’m already kinda sick of: Professional journalists fired for the contents of their personal blogs.

As you probably know, bloggingelegantly described by the Daily Business Review as “the publication by individuals of comments of personal Internet sites called Web logs”has already led to a number of firings and lawsuits across the country. Cases cited by the Daily Business Review include the reporter for the Durham, NC Herald-Sun who lost her job after writing “I really hate my place of employment” on her blog, and the Wells Fargo Bank employee fired after blogging about his fellow worker’s suckiness.

Reports of blog-related firings tempt suspicions about the curtailing of First Amendment freedoms, or some shifty move by Big Brother, but usually that's bull. There's a reason the last button you hit before posting is marked "Publish,” and proudly leaving a coworker-bashing diary lying around the internet is no less iffy than proudly leaving a coworker-bashing diary around the office. As employment law attorney Mark R. Cheskin told the DBR about the burgeoning blog etiquette, "Old common sense rules should apply.”

But the problem bloggers at the heart of the DBR story are two editors from the Miami New Times, whose blog dissings of current and former staffers resulted in weeklong unpaid suspensions for both. It could get messy: Along with a wealth of "foul language,” the worst of the offending posts contains language deemed "legally actionable” by a consulting attorney, who told the DBR the subject of the offending blog posting has sufficient basis for a defamation suit.

No charges have been filed or even threatened, and at least one of the dissed former New Times employees has claimed she has no interest in pursuing any kind of action.

Still, pretty sketchy shit for a couple of alleged editors.