So, it looks like history has been made. An outspoken sub-editor at South African newspaper, Sowetan, has apparently been fired for blogging — or at least private information he divulged about the company on his blog. Local technology analyst Arthur Goldstuck has been reporting on the event, and a post mentioned that Sowetan sub-editor Llewellyn Kriel, appeared before a disciplinary hearing yesterday. Today, Goldstuck reported Kriel had been fired.
As far as I am aware it’s probably one of the first cases in South Africa where an employee has been fired over a blogging incident. It’s certainly the first case here of media firing an employee for blogging. Admittedly I didn’t know too much about the case until the news appeared on Arthur’s blog — but it apparently revolved around Kriel divulging internal company information, not necessarily criticism of the company itself.
I don’t know where I sit on this one, to be honest. In many ways the fact that this incident occurred on a blog and that it was “the first” sensationalises the issue. What if the same sensitive information was, say, forwarded in an email to a group of people. The result would have been the same, but perhaps the interest in the event from bloggers, media and sundry would have been different? In any case, it highlights the opportunities and pitfalls of the new digital, connected era. The internet, specifically blogging, makes it easier than ever before to publish. So anyone can publish, but the old rules and principles still apply.
Kriel’s blog post that ostensibly caused all the trouble was “Working on that pig’s ear, baby“. Kriel then later wrote a follow-up post about the fact that he had been disciplined called the The ‘gross misconduct’ of blogging. Since his sacking, today Kriel has written about the whole incident here.