The power of words used on a social media platform have proven to be a destructive force for one journalist. According to Nir Rosen, a liberal freelance journalist who recently wrote about the Egyptian government overthrow, a series of unfortunate comments he made regarding Lara Logan, the American CBS correspondent who was sexually assaulted in Cairo resulted in him losing his job at New York University. In an article for Salon magazine http://www.salon.com/news/egyptian_protests/index.html?story=/mwt/feature/2011/02/17/nir_rosen_explains_twitter_controversy, he defended his reasoning and offered an apology. Ultimately, the irony is that the same people who read his questionable Twitter posts are not likely the same people who read the Salon magazine article. Another version of this news is rather shamelessly described in a very different opinion piece written for American Thinker magazine here: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/02/risky_business_lara_logan_and.html. In my opinion, there is little doubt that Twitter has the same power to incite a mob mentality. At a minimum, such short “tweets” can cause both misunderstanding and misbehavior on the part of the reader or the writer. In America, the freedom of the press allows both of these written articles to exist without government censorship or recrimination, however, public opinion via the Internet certainly appears to be more abrupt and career limiting.

Lara Logan, CBS Journalist

22 thoughts on “Twitter Your Career Away

  1. After reading both articles listed in the above posting, the moral of the story seems to be, think before you post your comments to the world. Ni Rosen made the mistake of thinking the Twitter platform extended only as far as to his close friends and not beyond. He learned quickly that other followers did not find his comments on Ms. Logan’s horrific attack amusing or appropriate. Unfortunately, the jokes he made before knowing all the facts of her situation lead him to be fired from his university career. Twitter is a media platform that reaches millions of readers and is a strong media outlet. His response explaining his actions make sense: he underestimated her injuries, he underestimated who was reading the postings, and he underestimated Twitter’s reach. It’s unfortunate that he had to lose his job, but his arrogance is what got him into this situation and he seems to rationalize his behavior better than admitting his fault.
    The American Thinker article although brash, brings up interesting points about the safety of journalists abroad and the reality of opinions about American involvement in foreign affairs. Although I disagree that CBS should be held legally responsible for the injuries Ms. Logan suffered, I do believe that CBS needs to insure to protect its journalists abroad by disclosing the reality of dangerous situations and offering some type of protection to its crew members. Cameramen and sound technicians cannot be expected to become bodyguards when situations become dangerous. Attacks of journalists have become disturbingly common occurrences and action plans need to be implemented to protect those that we rely upon for information abroad.

  2. Lara Logan is not a victim of rape. Lara is merely the benefactor in what she was seeking in a foreign land whose people live under a different ethics and morals standard. Dressed as she was, doing what she did, she got what she deserved and should actually be prosecuted for her prostitution acts because those acts are illegal both in Egypt and in the USA when done out in the streets in public-view and she was being paid money while tricking. Send her back where she belongs to Egypt and let her bang all the guys she wants there again. The USA certainly doesn’t need such whoreship here.

    1. Dear Michellefrommadison, your shocking response to this blog post is at best, ill-informed and at worst genuine libel. Do you have any evidence to back up your claims of prostitution? Your comments appear to be leaning towards anti-Arab views and I’m also concerned that your quick judgment and strong opinions about Ms. Logan are not grounded in reality. Please provide some context or factual content that contributes information that is relevant and helpful to this discussion.

  3. I would have to agree with Erin. These articles seem to be about thinking before you write something on the Internet. This isn’t the first time someone has lost a job though because of something they said on Facebook or Twitter. The Internet is continually changing and the rules are unclear on what should be said when. It is becoming a hazardous place for both employers and employees to write things.

  4. Twitter is interesting in that it encourages the user to post their short thoughts or comments to the world, and to show their views and/or personality, on short notice so they can convey immediacy to whatever they have to say. For the every day person this is fine, and a lot of mental filtering doesn’t really have to take place. But once a person reaches some sort of celebrity status, the ability to express thoughts to the world on short notice can become dangerous to ones career. Personally, I feel that a large portion of the Twitter posts that seem to get certain people in trouble are done in haste, without much thinking going on. Sometimes its all too easy to type a few characters into your phone, make it available for the world to see, and forget all about it. Unfortunately, even if one realizes a mistake they made in posting something questionable and deletes it later, its all too late and exists in the internet cloud forever. If you hold celebrity status and have even a slight problem with self control or judgment, its probably best to either not have a Twitter account, or to have a PR or marketing person handle it for you.

  5. Journalists who choose to interact through a twitter feed should do so with extreme caution. Although they may write objectively in their newspaper articles, they are obviously very opinionated people at heart. This personality trait is a dangerous characteristic to have when it takes mere seconds to post something on twitter. When publishing an article in a newspaper there is comparatively more time to reflect on what is written, which allows for edits to be made if necessary, part of twitter’s fast moving nature can be attributed to this lack of editing. That’s probably why there are so many provocative statements made on this medium.
    For journalists it might be a wise idea to avoid twitter altogether considering the difficulty of providing any context for statements. Most news stories are complicated ones which cannot be discussed in detail through twitter and providing general information usually doesn’t lead to better understanding. The sense of community on twitter can also lead reporters to believe that the only people paying attention to their feeds are like minded individuals, this clearly isn’t the case.

  6. I also agree with Erin M. that CBS shouldn’t be legally held responsible for what happened. I think that CBS could have chosen a more appropriate person for the job, but the incident could have happened to any other women reporter, even one with a clear reputation or no reputation at all. CBS should have better provide security to its correspondent. This kind of dramatic incident happened a lot with journalists, and I totally agree that journalists should be better protected when sent in countries like Egypt, where religion and culture can put them in danger.
    It’s a shame that Rosen needed to loose his job to understand how open is Internet. However, I still think that a provocation with some friends about an issue as serious as sexual harassment should be private, and not just tweeted on the Internet, where everyone could have access to it.
    We all know nowadays that Internet is an international open platform. What you say there will stay forever but most of us don’t really think about it when we post about our last party as well as about a world issue.
    Once someone holds a celebrity status, or in some jobs that integrates social media, words used and opinions given should be very carefully weighted before being posted on Internet. Another issue that opinions posted on Internet raises is the differences in every culture. Who said that what is simply a fair opinion for you isn’t a serious and outrageous judgment in other cultures?
    Twitter, Facebook, etc… shouldn’t be removed of the effective tools to help your work because of the threats it raises. I’ve personally seen as much these tools are important and effective in event planning for example. And it can help in many other fields. But when it comes to opinion about international issues, issues that affect many persons, you can’t simply post what you think about it, without thinking of consequences.

  7. I would really like to know what the tweet was that cost someone their career. Especially for someone who has a reputation of being a liberal writer. It is a very serious matter, but in all honesty how intelligent has Lara Logan been throughout the 17+ years she has been reporting on war. When you put yourself in that position constantly, in some of the most unsafe environments, its almost inevitable that something very seriously bad could happen. I myself am not saying by any means that Logan deserved anything, I’m just saying she shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Its like someone who keeps putting their hand in the fire… they will get burned eventually.

    Furthermore, I think the whole idea behind the “mob” on social networks is almost a scary thing. …How people are morphing the social media into a reality follows into the whole idea of “perception is reality.” This perception is really putting our profiles, our online words, and opinions as our “identity” as a person. Something anyone with any sort of profile or blog should be very much aware of.

  8. This is not surprising at all- More and more employers are starting to take social networking seriously. They are starting to put guidelines to what you can and can’t do in employee code of conducts. That seems to be the next best way to “lose” your job/ career- Facebook/ twitter.
    People have to keep in mind that everything is public. I am also curious to know what the Tweet said that cost that person their career. I think it would be interesting to hear. I would like to know what was so extreme that Logan said that cost her to lose her Career over.

    1. I agree that companies are taking social media more seriously. I know where I work there are several communication experts who manage the voice of the company within the different social media platforms.

  9. Nir Rosen made comments directed to his friends but made these comments viewable by everyone on twitter. People act and communicate differently among their friends. Some of this talk may be vulgar and unacceptable to discuss in the public, but when your with your friends you become comfortable saying something dumb jokingly and its acceptable. Nir Rosen is an example of becoming too comfortable behind the keyboard. I believe that his inability to visualize and understand the breadth of his audience is due to a disconnection caused by the internet. He seems to be sorry towards saying those comments and I feel sorry for the guy for losing his job.

  10. I keep thinking that these extreme situations will lead me to some extreme point of view. I don’t really feel that I have steadfast opinions about either of these articles, but I’ll endeavor to write something anyway. I can absolutely understand the opinion that anyone traveling to a country where genital mutilation is alright should probably travel with a great sense of perspective if not trepidation. I disagree that anyone should expect at any point to be raped or assaulted. I think that a woman lying down on the ground naked with her legs wide open screaming “please dear god some one stick something inside me” still has the right to say, “but not you.”

    Perhaps I’m being naive, but if I should expect to be assaulted when I travel, there should be signs posted in English saying as much. Then again if you’re in a giant mob and there are women being assaulted around you, a sign might be superfluous. It’s like when you go to someone’s house and you can see that they not only have wall to wall pristine carpet, they have a line up of shoes by the door. You’ll probably be expected to take off your shoes, even if you don’t like taking off your shoes. They sometimes won’t even ask. It’s kind of like that, I think.

  11. I agree with the comment above, “think before you write” but I think this may go further than just not thinking. It seems hard for me to believe that a man who writes in such a spotlight like that doesn’t “think” before he writes. I am wondering if this was more of a research the topic before you form an opinion thing. Which I think is worse. Or maybe even an inability to know his audience.

    It seems to me that it would have taken him a few Google strokes to figure out the extent of Logan’s attack or at least remembered the golden rule before he tweeted. It would make me think that maybe New York University has a credibility problem because obviously their freelance reporters can’t do research.

    I also agree with some of the commenter’s on his apology, that it was a little too self serving. I also agree that he lumped a few too many folk into the “weak” pile that maybe should have been left out. That was a little off-putting and I could see how easy it would be to misunderstand there.

    These are my first gut reaction to the stories in any case. I am sure that eventually I would/will forgive his inability to Google and be a good human, but for now I will continue to think of him as a guy who decided to speak before he Google-ed, because thinking that anyone would write something so terrible on purpose is just too much for a Tuesday.

    1. I agree with Ms. Teeples, it goes back even further back than “think before you speak” (write), it should just be “if you can’t say someting nice, don’t say anything at all”. Why the need to broadcast your opinion, especially when you know that just as you’re opinionated, there are probably people out there that will have opinions too. For every action there is a reaction.

      Also, though it would have just taken him some more research before he reacted to Logan’s story, I feel that the people that reacted to his tweets should have done their own research. As the original post explains, the people who read his tweets may not be the same people that read his other peices in more credible sources. The people who respond to posts, have just as much responsibility to think before they type as Mr. Rosen.

  12. I don’t know anything about this issue after I read the news here. After I read the news, I research for some videos and articles relate to the this issue. What I found interesting about is that there have a group of people feel sorry to Ms. Logan and a group of people think that the issue is a Ms. Logan’s fault. Maybe I am out of topic about the writing style or wirting structure of the news, but I really feel interesting that how reader or audience react to waht they read or heard. Doesn’t matter rape is a crime or not, some people still think very deeply why was that happen and who cause that happen? This cause me to understand about no matter how good I am with my PR skill or PR writing, there always will have someone to against me, therefore, being calm all the time as Professor said is very important for a PR person.

  13. I think it’s important to realize that any written communications need to come with an attendant social-stake. We’re not anonymous when we’re carrying on a conversation in any other public space so we shouldn’t expect to be anonymous when we conduct these conversations online. Rosen’s apology and explanation isn’t worth much in the bigger scheme of things. He’ll long regret being so insensitive about Logan’s assault.

    1. I agree that public spaces are akin to public forums online, and a listening ear should always be expected. This is an all too easy illustration of written communication gone sour, and lacking regard for audience potential. Altogether, it’s a harsh reminder of internet power…thanks for being the non-example.

  14. What I personally think, if a journalist got sexuality assaulted this is would be the worst thing that could happen for her life and for her career also. Furthermore, if a journalist is among too many uneducated and careless people especially in this situation where people are crazy and protesting against their country, CBS at least could provide some security behind her to prevent any bad actions that might happen. By the way, this kind of incident could be occurred anywhere in the world.

  15. I think this guy got what he deserved. I see how it may have been taken the wrong way but as most people know words on a screen can be perceived many different ways. When you are speaking on a public outlet you must always speak as if you are representing your organization, because you are.

  16. I would strongly agree that when using media like twitter, or facebook, the writer needs to understand the magnitude of the audience potential. Clearly you can say what you want, but if you are in a position that could cause negative publicity to yourself or organization, you have to believe that is it a possibility.

    The other interesting part of this, is that is seemed that this author was in strong opposition to Lara Logan, so writing something that can be portrayed as vulgar, even f the intentions were misread, could backfire tremendously as we can see. It is a possibility that Lara and other opponents of Nir’s used this to get him out of the industry.

  17. Written messages can certainly be misunderstood, the message the messenger wants to communicate can be un-coded completely differently by the receiver. Communication gets even more complicated when it reaches a diverse or international audience because of the differences in cultures and meanings behind words. Clear and simple language is most of the time best to avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings.

  18. As a journalist, mr. rosen should know the power of his words on an online medium, and that it wouldn’t take much to match the two together and possibly incriminate his work because of a personal opinion via twitter.
    personally, sounds like he could have used a better pr person to help him realize you can’t apologize to one group or demographic for something you said to another.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s