CNN Producer Fired Because of Personal Blog

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Some of you might have read of this already but for those who haven’t heard or read of this story, a CNN producer was recently fired because of something he posted on his personal blog. What exactly did he do/write to get fired?

Here’s the exact paragraph from his personal blog named Deus Ex Malcontent that CNN cited as a violation:

I wake up every morning baffled as to why America hasn’t deported George Bush and Dick Cheney, Hollywood hasn’t stopped trying to convince me that Sarah Jessica Parker is attractive, gullible soccer moms haven’t realized that they share absolutely no kinship with Oprah, and Fox canceled Firefly.

The employee’s name is Chez Pazienza, Emmy Award winner and former producer of CNN’s morning show American Morning. Apparently, CNN’s employee handbook states that any writing done for a “non-CNN outlet” was prohibited or has to go through CNN’s network standards and practices department for approval. This was something that Chez wasn’t aware of when he started his blog and only knew about it a month earlier when he accidentally came across an employee handbook in someone else’s desk. After talking with his boss and a HR representative about this matter, twenty four hours later he was fired.

Chez wrote a long blog post in regards to this issue. Below are some excerpts from the said post.

I hadn’t seen a pertinent rule and never signed any agreement stipulating that I wouldn’t write on my own time. I hadn’t divulged my place of work and wasn’t writing about what went on at the office. The views expressed on my blog, Deus Ex Malcontent, were mine and mine alone. I represented no one but myself, and I didn’t make a dime doing it.

I let them know exactly what I had thought when I read the rule, namely that it was staggeringly vague and couldn’t possibly apply to something as innocuous as a blog.

I told both my boss and HR representative that a network which prides itself on being so internet savvy — or promotes itself as such, ad nauseam — should probably specify blogging and online networking restrictions in its handbook.

CNN fired me, and did it without even a thought to the power that I might wield as an average person with a brain, a computer, and an audience. The mainstream media doesn’t believe that new media can embarrass them, hurt them or generally hold them accountable in any way, and they’ve never been more wrong.

Click here if you want to read the complete post of Chez Pazienza.

I’m not a lawyer and I haven’t read what the CNN employee handbook contains regarding this issue but according to Chez, the rule was kinda vague and should have been more precise in pointing out that it included blogs. However, this is not the first time a CNN employee got fired for the same reason. A year before this, an intern was also fired for posting about work experiences in CNN. This happened even though the entries made were about positive work experiences and it also didn’t matter that the journal was password-protected.

It is the employee’s responsibility to abide with company rules and regulations and part of it is reading the employee handbook (if the company has one). However, there are times when the rules and regulations are vague and not clear enough for the employees to understand or determine if what they’re doing is already in violation of the company’s regulations like what happened in this case. I agree with what Chez pointed out that some of these restrictions should be specific. But regardless of how vague the restriction was, under the law, CNN had the right to fire him. Although IMO, it wasn’t necessary considering how Chez was a valuable asset to the show and the company. A warning or suspension at most could’ve been more than enough.

This is one good example of the disadvantages of being a part-time blogger and having a day job, I mean working for a company. Probloggers don’t have to worry about stuff like these because blogging is their job and they are their own bosses.

For those of you part-time bloggers working in companies, have you read your company’s employee handbook? Does it also have restrictions with matters pertaining to blogging? Do you know of anyone who got fired because of a blog post? Please share your thoughts.

via The Blog Herald

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  1. @ApplesH – Really? That’s interesting! This is the first time for me to hear of someone from the Philippines getting fired for a blog post.

    Even if he didn’t name names, I guess his post specified other details because if not, his co-workers wouldn’t have known who he was talking about. Btw, was he blogging under his real name or an alias? Coz if he used his real name, it wouldn’t matter if he named names or not. :D

  2. …forgot to add… he rant about his boss but did not mention any names. The thing is, his co-workers read his blog and of course knew who he was talking about. Duh!

  3. @Prudence – I guess any technology has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Like what you mentioned regarding the computer literacy of medical professionals in the Philippines, it’s more unfortunate because there are a lot of stuff that could be learned and new knowledge gained from the Internet even in the medical field.

    Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals can access a lot of resources online that can help them and also provide them with information on new trends, practices and findings in their respective fields of expertise.

    In the case of Dr. Flea, its just unfortunate that he had to undergo some litigations because of his blog.

  4. I don’t know if it’s fortunate or unfortunate that the Philippine medical doctors, hospitals, and other health care facilities aren’t so internet-savvy just yet. But in the medical blogosphere in other countries, some medical blogs do get in trouble, as in the case of Dr. Flea (Read hereabout it, as blogged by Doctor Anonymous).

  5. @Lester – Some companies do that and go to that extent. The Internet is full of information even for employers trying to check on job applicants or even current employees. Yes, you really need to be careful with what you post online especially if you want to keep your job or get a good job in the future.

    Btw, thanks for dropping by and joining in the discussion. :)

  6. @ApplesH – Yeah it does happen. I’ve seen/read a couple instances of this type of termination. Just curious, where does the person you’re referring to work? In the Philippines or in a different country? I’m asking coz I wanna know if this also happens in the Philippines.

    Thanks for dropping by and for the comment! :)

  7. @jhay – Really? It does look/sound like there’s a conflict of interest since you work for them but I’m not sure if they can terminate you for your blog posts because as a student/citizen you are entitled and have the rights to voice out your opinions an d ideas regarding the school and government.

    It is definitely interesting to see what develops out of this event. I’m sure there are some bloggers out there who also got fired for this type of violation but haven’t talked or blogged about it. True, it would be very interesting to hear their stories. :)

  8. I work part-time in a local government agency and I’m a full-time student part-time(?) blogger.

    In one of my blogs, I directly criticize both school and government. So far, I still have my job and I’m still at school.

    It’s either no one from my place of work or my school reads my blog or they don’t even know what a blog is. :lol:

    Going back, it would interesting how this story develops. Will it encourage others who had the same experience to come out and blog about their stories? That’s even more interesting.

  9. @K – Yeah, this is for real.

    Just because employees in your company aren’t allowed to go “online” doesn’t mean that there’s no possibility that your company checks online for stuff related to their company. Better be careful. If you can edit or delete your “posts”, then do it. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

  10. Seriously? Ohnoes.

    Since we are not allowed to go “online” at work, I don’t think they’d find out I am blogging unless someone in my Department knows how to scan “history” stored in the main server, or else I’m doomed. So now, I’ve stopped talking negative about job and my boss in my blog.

  11. @Dre – I guess you’re safe. Anyways, you don’t blog about your work or your boss right? Even if they didn’t mention it in the orientation, I think it would be better to play safe and just read your employee handbook. Better safe than sorry! :D

  12. I haven’t read my old employee handbook, but we were oriented about the do’s and don’ts and I don’t remember anything about banning blogging, or anything related to it. was fired because of her blog! :P (at least that’s what I know)

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