Octavia Nasr, former senior Middle East editor at CNN, said newsroom guidelines give journalists direction, but not protection. CNN fired Nasr in July 2010 for a tweet about Hezbollah leader Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, and suspended contributor Roland Martin earlier this week for homophobic tweets he sent during the Super Bowl.
“I see them as a way to protect the employer’s back, but they don’t protect the employee,” said Nasr, who now runs her own media consulting company. She told me by phone that people’s reactions to reporters’ statements (online and on air) often dictate how an employer responds: “What’s happening now is that it’s not about what you say and what you mean, but it’s about the perception of what you said and what you meant. What guidelines are going to address that?”