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Archive for May 3rd, 2012

Death tends to bring out a tendency by journalists to exaggerate.

If you had asked NFL fans last week to list the players from the decades of the 1990s and 2000s who were “icons” or “legends,” they would have named Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Jerry Rice, Reggie White, Ray Lewis, Barry Sanders and a few others. I don’t think many would have named Junior Seau.

He was a star and a probable Hall of Famer, but I didn’t think of him as an icon or legend, and I don’t think most fans did. But his suicide made him both in the front-page headline of USA Today (I stayed in a hotel last night, so it was delivered to my door).

I should add that I would have no criticism of the use of either term by the San Diego media. He clearly was iconic there, with Dan Fouts probably one of the two greatest Charger players ever. But not nationally. It’s not a big deal, just an indication that journalism isn’t as objective as we sometimes portray it. Journalism is practiced by humans, and we react with human emotion, surprise and exaggeration sometimes. (more…)

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An editor asked my advice on how to respond to staff members who were using crude language and behaving unprofessionally on Twitter.

The editor was planning an appropriate response, reminding the staff and the individuals involved that they should always behave professionally.

But he was wondering if his approach might conflict with John Paton’s rules for employee use of social media, which some misinterpret to mean that anything goes. John’s point is not that we shouldn’t rebuke staff members for unprofessional behavior on Twitter, just that we don’t need a special Twitter rule for that. We already have expectations for professional conduct by our staff members, sometimes spelled out in employee handbooks and sometimes so obvious they shouldn’t need to be spelled out. (more…)

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