Arizona Daily Star Allowed to Fire Reporter for "Inappropriate" Tweets, Labor Board Finds

Categories: Media, Schmedia
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The First Amendment apparently doesn't extend to Twitter-town -- if you work for the Arizona Daily Star, anyway.

A federal labor board recently found that the Star was well within its rights when it fired a public safety reporter for a series of morbid "tweets" he posted on his Twitter account last year.

The unidentified reporter got canned in September for a series of "tweets" the newspaper found to be "unprofessional and inappropriate."

See a few examples below:

• Aug. 27: "You stay homicidal, Tucson. See Star Net for the bloody deets."

• Aug. 30: "What?!?!? No overnight homicide? WTF? You're slacking Tucson."

• Sept. 10: "Suggestion for new Tucson-area theme song: Droening (sic) pool's 'let the bodies hit the floor'."

• Sept. 10: "I'd root for daily death if it always happened in close proximity to Gus Balon's."

• Sept. 10: "Hope everyone's having a good Homicide Friday, as one Tucson police officer called it."

The National Labor Relations Board reportedly found that firing the reporter did "not violate a provision of the National Labor Relations Act that protects communications by employees as long as they relate to--or seek to involve other employees in a discussion of--working conditions or employment terms."

About 10 months prior to the homicidal "tweets," the reporter also bashed the paper's copy editors by posting some snarky comments about headlines in the paper's sports section. The paper told the reporter that "airing his grievances or commenting about the Daily Star" in any public setting would no longer be permitted. He did it anyway.

The reporter was fired in September, with the paper noting in its termination letter that editors "have no confidence that you can sustain our expectation of professional courtesy and mutual respect."  

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6 comments
Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

He wasn't actually fired for posting. He was fired to insubordination. He had been told that airing his grievances or commenting about the Daily Star would not be tolerated. He continued to do so. It appears his lack of maturity was showing. Many younger employees get caught up in that type of behavior when they come out of college and feel like they have the world by the tail.

When he was counseled on his behavior he had the opportunity to seek employment elsewhere and it appears he may have chosen to continue his bad behavior, instead, thus showing the bosses that he was really the boss. So, his employment was terminated. It looks like the Daily Star really did nothing than help him make a choice to move on in life, taking another path.

Mr. King, you can learn well from this. It might be much cheaper than losing your job and having to sue and then losing again.

Lee, you may want to read the article again if you didn't see the real reason he was fired...

Mistalee
Mistalee

This, unfortunately, is how American mainstream media rolls. The commonly accepted standard is that journalists should make no public statements indicating any position on matters of importance, so as to maintain a perception of "impartiality" and "objectivity," which is pure horseshit.

Show me someone with no opinion about the economy, the environment, immigration or our several current military adventures, and I'll show you someone who is either a sociopath or an imbecile. "Objectivity" has nothing to do with it. A decent journalist will write a fair and objective news story regardless of his opinion.

This guy didn't even take a controversial position, except to make a few ironic tweets about the body count in his home town. Sofa King Wut? That's no reason to fire somebody. 

Mistalee
Mistalee

I did read the article. Did you read the same article I did?

He had been counseled a year prior for criticizing his employer in tweets, and told not to do so again.

The tweets for which he was eventually fired were not criticism of his employer. At least not based on the examples cited in the story, which were tasteless, ironic commentary on the murder rate in Tucson.. The linked story strongly suggests that he was ultimately fired for tweeting criticism of a TV news station that misspelled their headline.

So he was not fired for criticizing his employer publicly, and he was not fired for insubordination.

And WTF does Mr. King have to do with this, apart from writing the story? Why do you think James King should learn from this example?

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