Journalist Fired for Asking One Tough Question Too Many

The Washington Post reported on a Congressional Quarterly editor, Brian Nutting, who questioned his employer in a very confrontational email on the recent layoffs of 44 staff members.

Not only did he send the email to his bosses, presumably the decisionmakers, but he also copied “the Newsroom” – which presumably included a whole lot of people. One of the recipients leaked the memo to FishBowlDC, which published it in full.keyboard with sos key

The company said that Nutting’s email had embarrassed it, and fired him for “insubordination.” In the Post article, he claimed that he was a Luddite, and did not anticipate his memo would ever go beyond the newsroom.

The lesson to be learned here, as articulated by Heather Armstrong of (whose termination after her blogging on work-related topics coined the term “dooced”), “BE YE NOT STUPID.”

Do not address matters of a controversial or potentially embarrassing nature to your employer on a social networking site, blog, or to a large number of recipients, any one of whom could launch the information into the public domain with the click of a button. This type of missive need only be sent to the individuals who need to address it. Better yet, this would be a good instance to go the old-fashioned route and HAND DELIVER the note.

 For more on the topic of e-mail etiquette, see:

ALL-CAPS EMAILS and Other Workplace Annoyances

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