Celebrities aren’t the only ones who get mean tweets.
In journalism — where everyone from editors to readers has something to say — words can hurt. Sometimes criticism is just a casualty of reporting on a controversial topic. But behind the guise of an ambiguous screen name, personal comments can quickly escalate into personal attacks.
“You just want to say F-you, but you can’t,” said Rebecca Aguilar, a freelance reporter and vice president of membership for Society of Professional Journalists’ Fort Worth chapter. “Sometimes reporters have to soak it in and take it.”
With more than 2,600 followers, Aguilar gets her fair share of barbed tweets. Some even tow the line of racism. With a little more freedom as a freelancer, she sometimes chooses to respond to internet trolls.
“Usually it’s some who hides behind… a handle,” Aguilar said. “They don’t have the guts to call you out with their real name.”
The potential of online-escalated arguments is high enough to steer Deb Wenger, a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi, away from daily tweeting.
“I try to avoid controversial tweets and conversations for the most part because I’m not interested in engaging in an anonymous bashing session,” she said.
Chantee Lans, a news reporter from WPRI-TV in Providence, RI, has a different strategy.
“If you don’t respond, it didn’t happen,” she said.
Lans’ station doesn’t give reporters viewer mail, but occasionally she’ll receive a snarky tweet on Twitter. To her, it’s best to just ignore a cowardly tweet.
“Sometimes, you just take the high road,” Lans said.
Tagged under: Colleen Wright