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Fired for blogging?

Posted by Richard on February 3, 2006

A loyal reader in the City of Brotherly Love clued me in on an interesting story from neighboring Delaware. A Dover Post reporter was fired because of what he wrote on his blog:

Matt Donegan, a copy editor and reporter for the newspaper, was fired by Dover Post Editor Don Flood after a reader reported the blog entries to Sussex County radio talk-show host Dan Gaffney.

Flood said some of the blog entries were "extremely offensive and just contrary to what we believe here."

Donegan, 24, said his firing is "a freedom-of-speech issue, and I don’t think I was treated fairly in this case."

"What I wrote … was rude, but it doesn’t make it wrong," he said.

My Philly friend wondered if this isn’t something like being fired for smoking at home. I don’t think so. For starters, you have to understand that this low-life was spouting some pretty vile racist and misogynist crap on his blog. Plus, he revealed himself to be an ignorant clod (he thinks Alaska is an island). The Philadelphia Weekly’s blog, Philadelphia Will Do, has some choice excerpts. Warning: that link may not be work-safe due to language and point of view.

Donegan has, of course, contacted the ACLU, EFF, etc., and insists that he has a right to write what he wants on his own time at his own blog. Well, of course he does. But Don Flood has a right to staff his newspaper with reporters who aren’t ignorant, bigoted misogynists.

Donegan wasn’t working as a welder, biologist, or accountant, where one might argue that his personal opinions expressed on his own time are irrelevant to his work. Jack put it well in a comment to that Philadelphia Will Do post:

If I had a writer who made racist comments, including saying he hates covering sports events at a majority-black school, and that writer was who I sent out to cover those areas in an objective manner…don’t you think that would raise eyebrows?

My guess is it would do more than raise eyebrows. Would it bother you to learn that a cop was a member of the KKK? The opinions and beliefs (and general ignorance) of a reporter — no matter where or when expressed — can’t be irrelevant to the reporter’s work because of the nature of that work.

I don’t believe in the liberal myth of journalistic objectivity — it neither exists nor is desirable. For instance, I have nothing but contempt for the clowns at CNN, Reuters, etc., who refuse to "take sides" between Western Civilization and Islamofascism. But it’s exactly because reporters can’t and shouldn’t have no beliefs and opinions that their employers can and should be concerned about those beliefs and opinions. Donegan may say, a la the current J-school orthodoxy, "I’m on the clock now, working as a reporter, so I’ve switched off my personal beliefs and opinions. I’ve become completely objective." But that’s as big a load of crap as anything on his blog; you can’t do that, you can only pretend.

If the person we’re relying on for an objective, fair, reliable description of events turns out to be a highly biased, hate-filled ignorant ranter — well, I’d kick him out on his ass, and fast.

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3 Responses to “Fired for blogging?”

  1. VRB said

    It’s curious that his editor or fellow reporters did not pick up his attitude until he published his thoughts.

  2. Anonymous said

    Well, I guess the $64 question is: was the editor ”unaware” of Donegan’s attitude, or just ”unconcerned” until someone brought the blog to his attention, and it threatened to become a public embarrassment?

  3. Bob said

    I had a personal experience with Matt Donegan several years ago on a series of article he was doing. After being interviewed and giving him all the facts, he then showed his true personality of ignorance and arrogance hanging up on me when I insisted that all facts be in the article or I wanted my name removed. He printed article any way, and I threatened a law suit. Don Flood was not much better telling me he would print missing facts, but would never print another article with my name. I am sure Donegan had loads of complaints, with his latest escapde reaching a point of no return. Firing!Great————————-

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