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Sacked reporter taking legal action over Anzac tweet dismissal

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HC Online | 21 May 2015, 08:24 AM Agree 0
The journalist who was sacked by SBS after tweeting political comments about Anzac soldiers is reported to be taking his case to the Fair Work Commission.
  • HR Dude | 21 May 2015, 11:13 AM Agree 0
    This'll probably come down to how well they communicated their social media policy.

    It would be clear cut if his Twitter name was SBS specific.
    • Veteran | 21 May 2015, 01:15 PM Agree 0
    • HR Dude | 22 May 2015, 11:37 AM Agree 0
      If it was an SBS specific twitter name, say 'Mike@SBS' then the views expressed would be clearly linked to the brand SBS and the organisation within their rights to control the content. If its a personal account (which I think it is), then its harder to control what is said without an agreement by way of accepting a policy.

      If they has a social media policy that was generic then it could be open to interpretation. If it wasn't widely enforced or explained, then even if it was clear he might be able to defend the outcome as being unfair.

      1. Was there a breach of policy?
      2. Was there reasonable expectation that he knew and understood the policy?
      3. Was the outcome just given the circumstances (including previous warnings, damage to brand, etc)?

      Arguing if the content was insulting is only the first part, arguing if there was a breach. There would be a lot more after that to determine if the result was fair. In the end though, SBS might argue a lost of confidence in the employee's judgement after making those comments. That might be enough if it is established there was a breach.
  • HR Dudess | 21 May 2015, 12:36 PM Agree 0
    Media people always give their own political opinions during talk shows most times not offensively however this tweet was extremely offensive to me as I am sure it was to others. My father fought in the second world war. I believe SBS would have lost business if they had not terminated him, I for one would have turned away from that media source. Because you work in media does not make it a forum for your own political bias. I like to think I am intelligent however his remarks were in line with racist comments to me and freedom of speech does not extend to racist comments. It would be possible that there was the odd occasion when what he claims did happen however in minority as most Australians are not barbaric. We have serial killers but all Australians aren't serial killers and I can name the ones in my time. Before someone makes sweeping statements like he did they need to present fact or shut up. Have respect for the people whose lives were lost and continue to be lost fighting for your freedom. If you have nothing good to say, say nothing. I agree with HR Dude as to outcome.
  • Veteran | 21 May 2015, 01:14 PM Agree 0
    This is the reason we need courts.

    Whilst I understand and appreciate the comments of above, I don't think they're relevent. Did he breach the guidelines is the bottom line. Whether some or many people find it offensive is irrelevant and a separate issue. I find nagasaki offensive. But people justify it. It's traumatic to be there and see what we did. So sack all those who justify it? No. Not unless it breaches the policy. Argue with them? Sure!

    Whilst some diggers were excellent role models, most were probably just blokes doing their duty, and a proportion of them would have been bludgers, rapists, thieves ect, just like in real world australia then and now. The fact we are told that they were all " heroes" shows how stupid we are. Maybe failing to put qualifiers on the comments allows more responses from people who wouldn't care? A technique if you like?

    The interesting thing is that Anzac Day is now a religion and you know you can't spaeak against religion, just lok at the royal commission into child sex abuse and see that bad bad stuff really happened ....coz people DIDNT say contrary stuff!!! I don't want that for Anzac Day. Be proud of good and appreciate the sacrifice, but also keep eyes open and challange myths and bad stuff.
  • Pat of Brisbane | 22 May 2015, 12:09 PM Agree 0
    As a veteran of Afghanistan and other theatres, I found his comments to be derogatory and offensive: a sweeping generalisation intended to shock, to be sure, but also tending to diminish the sacrifice and courage of all of those who went before us, all in order to generate a headline.

    Sure, we are all entitled to an opinion, and we are not entitled to go through life without being offended at times. However, given that he was a journalist, working for a respected broadcaster, funded by the taxpayer, I think the public - and his employer - are entitled to expect a degree of restraint, balance, objectivity, personal insight, intellectual honesty and truth in what he publishes, even if he does so in his own name. That was sadly lacking on Anzac Day, and when he was given the opportunity to withdraw his remarks or to qualify what he said, he stood by his original post.

    This man's public profile is entirely attributable to the fact that his employer gives him a platform from which to broadcast to a wider world. What he says or does therefore has a degree of gravitas and crediblity attached to it that comes from the SBS brand, the fact that he is on television with a microphone in his hand, that he had worked with in the trade for a while, and had thus earned a measure of the public's respect and trust. That alone doesn't make him infallible, or even particularly well read on a particular subject (although I would expect him to be at least that).

    Trust and confidence is hard won and easily lost: having lost it, how would his employer or the viewing audience have confidence in the credibility or accuracy of his reports in the future, that it wasn't being slanted to a particular point of view, or aimed at shaping our opinions rather than informing us, and leaving us to draw our own conclusions? From a commercial perspective, if he was to be representative of the SBS brand, would the sponsors want their products or brand associated with that programme?

    By all means people should be able to freely express their own opinions about the world around them, to challenge our thinking and to alert the public on matters of concern. However that freedom has to be limited in some respects. As a public figure in broadcast journalism, that means separating your own personal views from that of the people who pay your wages, and fully accepting the risk that if you do not, there will come a time when you must part ways with your employer.
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