Today, we discussed a reporter’s tweet about being made uncomfortable by a prayer in the legislature that was made in the midst of a live-tweeting of a legislative session.
The tweet more of implies that it’s making the reporter uncomfortable—not the legislature. Are there non-Christian members of the legislature? There’s a really good story if there is and they’re uncomfortable or unhappy about the prayer. Without them, you’re inserting yourself into the story. Yes, the individual exists behind the reporter. The profession is not about that individual. If I owned a factory, I’m not going to allow a factory worker to be an interpretive dancer on the floor. Twitter becomes your work floor when you have that press badge on. Tweeting at 11 p.m. about The Daily Show? You aren’t on the job. Posting a string of tweets about a meeting since you’re known as the government reporter for your paper? That’s the job.
Witthaus fixed this with his tweet-the-fact solution. If a brand new reporter can remove her Ferguson-related pin, an issue that brought her to tears in the newsroom, for a simple beat meeting, you can shut up about your views while representing a news organization. Journalism offers a lot of vague, grey ethical dilemmas—but it is still a professional environment full of work and actual issues. Mindless whining about being free to express your status as an individual and so forth will do nothing but get you quickly booted from any profession, let alone one that requires such acute knowledge of biases.