Former Washington Post reporter Michael Tunison says he just got dooced for identifying himself and his employer on the popular NFL blog Kissing Suzy Kolber, where Tunison has been blogging as the "Christmas Ape."
I've reported on blog-related firings, as well as shared experts' advice on heading off this kind of misfortune. It's worth noting how Tunison outed himself (with a blog entry titled "Drunk Blogger Staggers Into the Light" that refers to his work at the Washington Post via a hyperlink to "this dying medium" and includes a generous littering of expletives). This is what Tunison has to say, from Editor & Publisher:
Tunison, in an e-mail to E&P on Friday, stated:
"There was no conflict of interest between my writing for Kissing Suzy Kolber and my work for The Washington Post. The blog is not a journalistic endeavor and it is not something I was paid for until I revealed my identity. It is a humor blog about the NFL, whereas my job for the paper was to cover local news in a suburban county outside Washington, D.C. It is [a] beat that has nothing to do with a professional football league.
"I also find it troubling that I was summarily fired for engaging in something that is core to the spirit of The Washington Post: full disclosure. Even if editors had a problem with the language used in the blog, they should have been able to respect that my goal was not to defame The Post, but to be forthcoming with my readers."
AOL sports blogger Michael David Smith notes the financial fallout:
The Post is, obviously, one of America's most respected newspapers, and Kissing Suzy Kolber is among the most popular NFL blogs on the Internet. Tunison says at KSK that he can make the same income he was getting at the Post by writing for KSK, and that may be the real lesson here: If you're going to get fired for your blog, make sure your blog is popular enough that you can make money off it.
Tunison's blog fans erupted in the comments at the Washington Post website. The whole episode shows the grappling for respect and readership between old and new media. The way the commenters deride the newspaper would hardly indicate an awareness that Tunison's former employer just won six—count 'em, six— Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of events like the Virginia Tech campus shooting and the Post's investigation into the dismal conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
I'm not sure whether this is a new point of friction where old and new media chafe, or if this is an old-fashioned HR story, where an employer finds an employee's judgment is at odds with, or threatens, the integrity of its brand. Perhaps it is a bit of both.