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When professional Twitter #journo feeds get personal … and ugly

November 4, 2011

When I don’t understand something, I Google it. As an observer and participant in online communication practices I frequently find myself examining questions of netiquette and hate speech.

Netiquette is a combination of two words, Internet and Etiquette. It refers to necessary and appropriate behavior that occurs online when communicating via the internet.

A frequent topic for heated debate involves hate speech, is defined as:

“Speech that is intentionally deeply offensive to a racial, ethnic, religious, or other  group seeking to condemn or dehumanize members of such a group.”

I’m not a professional journalist, and I haven’t attended j-school. I’m a blogger. I blog. Sometimes the two worlds of online publishing and print media collide in such a way that it leaves me completely dumbfounded. More specifically, there are times when San Antonio Express-News crime beat reporter Eva Ruth Moravec microblogs via Twitter (which all reporters at the E-N are by policy encouraged to do), I’m baffled.

As reported by Hearst [dot] com: The Express-News is ranked No. 1 in Sunday readership among major U.S. newspapers. San Antonio is the largest major U.S. city with a Hispanic majority.

According to the San Antonio Express-News‘ ethics and practices policy published online, journalists are to:

Avoid stereotyping of any group – by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, social status or geography.

I’m not suggesting Eva Ruth Moravec is racist. I don’t know her well enough to say one way or another. But her commentary sometimes seems both racist and insensitive. Certainly the crime beat is demanding and it can lead to a certain level of desensitization to human suffering, but these posts show an apparent lack of proper concern for the community she lives in: San Antonio.

When I confronted her online about the first post, she responded:

Journalists are frequently required to not only report the news, but maintain an online presence that is not filtered through any editor. Inevitably very personal (and sometimes inherently wrong) expressions will leak out. Can a reporter’s Twitter feed be both a platform for the personal and the professional? Is there something to learn from this example? (And what’s the best way to tell people they sound racist without accusing them outright?)

“Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way.” — Al Franken


 

UPDATE:

Better late, than never, I attempted to contact Eva Ruth Moravec via text after work in real-time. She had no further comments.

San Antonio resident and media justice activist DeAnne Cuellar is a volunteer blogs throughout the week at blogs.sacurrent.com. She welcomes your questions and feedback and can be reached directly at techtease@sacurrent.com. Follow Tech Tease on Twitter at @thetechtease.

  • http://www.brutestomp.com Adam Coronado

    Ugh. I think about situations like this at least once a day. I link all my published work and then post some raunchy business at other hours. Prolly time to split things up. The internet IS what I call the hyper public after all.

  • Natedit

    I like that vid