What would you do?
The following memo was received by a working journalist who also happens to have a weblog.
It outlines a new company policy forbidding editors, reporters and photographers from publishing on the web any material giving an opinion about current events.
Of course journalists are not alone in having their employment terminated for the content of their websites or blogs, but, in the name of freedom of the press, free speech and all that, this policy does not sit well with me.
At very least, it gives cause for the revival of the ancient custom of thenom de plume
---- Newspaper policy on personal Web sites and Web logs (blogs)
Editorial staffers (editors, reporters, and photographers) may operate personal Web sites, Web logs (blogs) or chat rooms only with the prior approval of their editor. Such Web sites, blogs and chat rooms may not contain content dealing in any way with the subject areas that the employees cover or reasonably might be expected to cover. The editor may withdraw approval of an editorial staffer's operation of a Web site, blog or chat room at any time.
It is especially important that editorial staffers do not express personal opinions - on their Web sites or in their blogs or chat rooms - on news subjects or issues that they cover. Such publication of personal opinion casts doubt on their impartiality, ultimately calling into question the newspaper's commitment to fairness. [Con't.]...
... An editorial staffer who violates this policy will face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
The blogger & recipient of this memo remarks in his blog
Well, that's the end of the line for me. Since I often sit at the wire desk and make decisions about which national and international news stories get published in the next day's edition of the ------ ------, the line about "may not contain content dealing in any way with the subject areas that the employees cover or reasonably might be expected to cover" precludes me from writing about current events in any form.
It's been nice knowing you all.