Aspiring Journalists: Here’s an Example of What Not to Do

In this day of social media, Twitter specifically, interactions seem to get heated in a hurry.

As a former broadcast meteorologist and TV station web producer, I was appalled to read a response on Twitter yesterday from a local news anchor to a local high school student.

It all started when WRDW-TV news anchor Monique Williams tweeted a link to a video from CNN showing part of an interview between Larry King and Donald Trump in 1989. This tweet appeared on her station-branded Twitter account for anyone and everyone to view:

Ms. Williams included the caption “Trump in 1989 Central Park Five interview: ‘Maybe hate is what we need’ – CNN Video.” Despite Ms. Williams picking out a portion of Trump’s quote that his detractors could easily misconstrue out of context, the tweet in and of itself is not out of the ordinary or unprofessional, in my opinion. It simply points her followers to a video of Trump from 30 years ago speaking on an issue that has resurfaced in the news recently.

But that all changed when local high school student and political commentator C.J. Pearson (who has 286,000 Twitter followers) responded to Ms. Williams’ tweet by saying “Your bias is showing.” That four word sentence prompted Ms. Williams to respond with “And your ____ is. Waste your time somewhere else. I’m sharing information like I always do. Don’t come for me unless I send for you. If you comment, be sure to do so with everything, not just the things that stroke your ego. #RinseThatSimilacFromYourBreath.”

So, Ms. Williams took the bait and failed miserably by responding in such a condescending way. Had I responded to someone in like manner when I was in the TV news business, I very well may have lost my job. No response was necessary and certainly not such a nasty one.

Monique Williams would be wise to publicly apologize for her unprofessional and derogatory response. C.J. Pearson is very bright and astute for his age (though many find his views controversial), but even so, she should not have felt it was okay to use his age against him in her response. She basically said “you’re too young to understand. Leave me alone.”

I believe our journalists can do better.

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