The ability to reach people, connect with the masses and get a shout out is a powerful and useful tool. But like many powerful tools, it also carries with it dangers and disadvantages. Social media gave people the keys to this ability and, combined with a vocation such as journalism, we are able to gain another outlet other than our respective newspapers, TV channels or news websites.
Following the immense popularity of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, many news organizations sought to regulate their worker's activity on these outlets; and while the outcomes may vary, the reasons were pretty much the same.
Considering the influence journalists had especially during times of crisis, the public usually turns to faster methods of getting information. The social media accounts of journalists have been able to deliver in spades but this platform also became the one with the least amount of control and editorial oversight in the media industry.
In the past there were numerous articles on this matter in the Reader's Corner by İbrahim Altay and for more information you can check the articles titled "Social media use by journalists" and "Journalists and social media", published in March 9, 2014 and May 30, 2016, respectively.
But instead of beating this proverbial horse to death, let's look to more current matters. After the twin bombings that claimed the lives of 44 people and injured 155 others, a foreign journalist residing in Turkey a tweeted the following:
"Istanbul bombing appears to be very successful PKK/TAK terror attack for psychological reasons more than human toll."
It was sent by German Deutsche Welle (DW) correspondent Chase Winter. The tweet caused almost immediate outrage on social media, forcing Winter to explain his tweet as a simple statement and was not intended as praise for the PKK terrorists.
However, after some digging done by harsh critics of the tweet, several photos of Chase Winter were posted, featuring him together with PKK members, dancing and posing for photos alongside him.
While some considered the outrage as unjust, consider this: What if a foreign journalist living in New York posted mere hours after 9/11 attacks that terrorists were highly successful? What would be the response of the American public then?
Even if we set aside the pictures, the tweet itself was certainly in bad taste. Not only that, due to his journalistic occupation, it reached many people, while some of the backlash also transferred to his parent media organization.
This is why a journalist should think twice before posting even an innocent sentence and measure the possible public response. This is even more important for the tweets posted after a deadly terror attack that took place in the center of Istanbul, with tensions running high across the country as a result.