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Home Features SBS tweets: who really harmed public broadcaster’s reputation?
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TAGS SBS, social media policy
Inappropriate ministerial intervention and an excessive response from management may have caused more harm to SBS’s reputation than the offending tweets, in what journalist and former VPS executive Denis Muller sees as SBS’s “own goal”. It’s a lesson for all public entities.
There has been a good deal of muddled thinking arising from the sacking of Scott McIntyre by SBS because of a series of tweets he sent out on Anzac Day.
In the tweets, he said: “Wonder if the poorly read, largely white nationalist drinkers and gamblers pause today to consider the horror that all mankind suffered”; “Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan”.
The Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, described them as “despicable remarks” and drew them to the attention of SBS management. The SBS managing director, Michael Ebeid, then sacked McIntyre, setting off a lively debate about whether this amounted to an attack on McIntyre’s right of free speech.
There are two issues here, one of principle and the other of penalty. They need to be disentangled if we are to arrive at a reasoned conclusion.
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Dr Denis Muller has been a journalist, political scientist and senior executive in the Victorian Public Service. He is a Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism and a leading expert in media ethics.
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While he may have had only a few followers, it still would have blown up being anzac day and because he was already on tv
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