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Journalists, your online reputation and image can be deal-breaker

By Dex Mumo

The story of Idris Muktar, a former CNN journalist, is a cautionary tale for all aspiring journalists on the importance of care in what they post on social media. It is a story I read again recently, felt sorry, and decided to remind journalists of the moral lesson from his tragedy.

In 2022, after graduating, Idris was offered a job at CNN as a news desk producer. However, things turned for the worst when a pro-Israeli media watchdog, Honest Reporting, decided to investigate him.

According to Idris, the watchdog dug deep into his tweets from when he was still a teen in July 2014 and found two posts which were abhorrent and unacceptable to his new employer.

The tweet posts supported Germany’s Bayern Munich and implied support for Adolf Hitler. The July 13, 2014 tweet post read, “I have shifted to team Germany after finding out that Messi supports Israel #teamHitler.”

The other tweet post read, “Modern-day freedom fighters, they are defending their land. Yes, they are entitled to their armed struggle.”

These two posts led to the sacking of Idris from CNN, and he regrets his earlier social media postings. He acknowledged that he tweeted in ignorance and would have never tweeted such things if he had been appropriately exposed.

This is a lesson for all aspiring journalists on the importance of being cautious about what they post on social media. The truth is the things we post on social media can come back to haunt us many years later, especially if they are inappropriate or offensive.

Young and upcoming journalists must realise that social media is not private, and anyone, including potential employers, can access anything they post. So, while social media can be a powerful tool for networking and building a personal brand, it can also be a trap. Who knew that some things posted on social media can have real-world consequences? Journalists have a responsibility to uphold ethical standards and should be cautious about posting anything that could damage their reputation or their employer’s future reputation. Social media should be used as a platform for sharing ideas and engaging in meaningful conversations, not for spreading hate or offensive comments.

From where we stand, even deleting posts is not safe. We have seen bloggers being blasted for their earlier stands through the posts they purportedly deleted. Therefore, the best caution is for all journalists to think twice before posting anything on social media.

In conclusion, journalists are supposed to take their online reputation seriously as they do their offline reputation. It all begins by being extra mindful of the image they portray on social media because it can affect their career prospects and personal relationships. These days, employers and recruiters often check social media profiles before hiring. A negative image can be a deal-breaker.

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