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In another case of why employees need to watch what they say online, a journalism intern at the Mail & Guardian has been suspended for an anti-Semitic statement on Facebook, leading to a very public spat involving the publication’s editor.
The intern, Ngoako Matsha, in a Facebook conversation referred to fellow commenters as “racists”. The anti-Semitic comment in question read: “You racists! No wonder Hitler killed all the Jews, because you’re all a bunch of racists.”
The conversation in question began when Facebook user Benji Shulman asked his friends to help him with a “decent history of Apartheid”. Matsha responded with a definition of “petty Apartheid” and a conversation ensued about Middle-East politics, which later led to the inflammatory remark by Matsha.
The conversation quickly made its way to Twitter, and was soon brought to the attention of Mail & Guardian Editor, Nic Dawes. Dawes quickly responded:
This tweet was soon followed by another informing readers and followers of Dawes’ Twitter account that Matsha had been suspended.
Last year in an interview with Memeburn, Dawes commented on the Mail & Guardian’s lack of a social media policy and the need for one. He also commented on how journalists need to carefully manage their personal and professional personas on Twitter and other social networks.
“The remarks Ngoako made were completely unacceptable, and in my view go way beyond concerns of social media policy to the basic values of the M&G, the constitution, and human decency,” Dawes said to Memeburn.
Journalist have experienced the intense backfire from social media unprofessional outbursts. Last year ex CNN editor of Middle East affairs editor was fired after she tweeted about her personal feeling toward the death of controversial Hezbollah leader Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, calling him a “giant” that she “respects”.
*Memeburn correction — this copy has been updated to reflect that the journalist in question is in fact a journalism intern not a political reporter.