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TV Reporter Sacked Over Less-Than-Rosy Tweets About Australia’s War Memorial Day

Anzac day cerimony held in Wollongong, Australia. Photo: Manuel Ribeiro/GV

Anzac day ceremony held in Australia. Photo: Manuel Ribeiro/GV

A sports reporter for Australian public broadcaster SBS has been sacked after using Twitter to criticise Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand commemorating Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.

Observed on April 25 each year, Anzac Day was originally to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli (Turkey) against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. This year, the celebrations marked its centenary.

Scott McIntyre published a series of five tweets regarding the day that distressed some readers, blasting some of Australia's actions in WWI and WWII.

Australian Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull described these comments as “inappropriate” and “despicable which deserve to be condemned”:

SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid also disapproved of Mr McIntyre's statements on Twitter:

Scott McIntyre. Photo: Twitter

Scott McIntyre. Photo: Twitter

In a statement issued the following day, he and SBS Sports Director Ken Shipp announced McIntyre had been fired:

Mr McIntyre’s actions have breached the SBS Code of Conduct and social media policy and as a result, SBS has taken decisive action to terminate Mr McIntyre’s position at SBS, with immediate effect.

At SBS, employees on and off air are encouraged to participate in social media, however maintaining the integrity of the network and audience trust is vital. It is unfortunate that on this very important occasion, Mr McIntyre’s comments have compromised both.

The episode sparked a debate on Twitter about freedom of expression.

Some users drew parallels between the criticism of McIntyre's comments and worldwide solidarity for French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, known for its crass and vulgar humour, following an attack on its Paris office that left 12 dead.

Ten News’ Hugh Riminton agreed that McIntyre's tweets were “immature”, but argued that Australian troops have fought for his right to express them:

Riminton believed SBS should have acted differently:

SBS Managing Director replied:

The debate its far from over. It is challenging for an individual to find the boundary between expressing a personal opinion without affecting the reputation of an employer.

Academic Julie Posetti is currently writing her PhD dissertation on ‘The Twitterisation of Journalism’ at the University of Wollongong. In 2012, Julie wrote an article entitled “Journalists, Twitter Gaffes and Freedom of Expression” where she argued that it is increasingly difficult for journalists to claim that their personal Twitter accounts “are not the views of my employer.” At the same time, it is growing harder for employers to apply standards of conduct onto journalists when the latter are commenting on personal social media accounts.

The same matter is also being discussed in other countries around the world. In Europe, Portuguese journalists have recently faced pressure from news outlets trying to enforce a code of conduct, specifically when using their private social media accounts. University of Porto journalism lecturer and researcher Suzana Cavaco believes this is a matter of self-regulation, in which the journalist should take into consideration individual ethics in determining if what he or she is about to say is moral.

McIntyre hasn't publicly responded to his termination nor to the Twitter campaign #sackScottMcIntyre.

In the meantime, Australian journalists union Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) challenged the fairness of McIntyre´s dismissal in a statement issued today:

[…] media employees are being required to use social media platforms to promote their work and those accounts are then being used as a marketing tool benefiting media employers. The policies have begun to infringe on the private lives of media professionals, dictating what they can and can’t say in a private capacity, outside of their work.

MEAA believes that employers must recognize that their employees are entitled to a private life, with their own beliefs and opinions; opinions that should be able to be expressed without heavy-handed retribution by the employer.

Striking a balance between engaging in debate and freedom of expression requires social media policies to be nuanced. What MEAA is finding is that social media policies of employers are inflexible and deny staff the right to have and express a personal opinion.

Not all Australians took issue with McIntyre's tweets:

And some considered the TV network's actions shameful:

  • Peter

    As usual people miss the point…
    Do we put up decorated trees at Hallowe’en or go door to door for Easter Eggs?
    There’s a good reason we don’t.
    “There’s a time and place for everything.”
    Is Mr. “I like to shoot my country in the face” McIntyre a brave and intrepid pioneer of Australian liberal thinking, trying to effect change with his powerful mind and provocative “Tweets?”
    Is he a good and loyal Australian that loves and respects his nation?
    Should you choose the one day of the year for honouring THE DEAD, THE MAIMED and THE BRAVE to put forward a contrary point of view
    Should you have a fool with a crappy attitude, and complete disrespect for all his nations ‘heroes’ as an employee of your ‘firm’
    The important thing here, Scott, is that YOUR countrymen DIED doing something they believed in whether you believe in it or not. And by that dying, and that sacrifice, they laid open a nation free to produce idiots like you.
    So it’s all about freedom Scotty.
    Are you free to make your comment?
    Is your employer free to fire your ungracious, thankless insulting butt?
    Oh, baby, Yes, Yes, Yes!
    1. Freedom of speech is a right not an obligation
    2. Freedom to respond, react or hold you accountable for your stupid opinion is also a right….And so often, an obligation.
    Keep your dumb opinions to yourself folks, or get ready to defend and, ultimately, pay for them.
    If you don’t, it’s not upholding the higher morality of “Freedom of Speech,”
    but defending the “Freedom to Abuse.”
    Looked like you had a pretty good gig there Scott.
    Tell you what, if you believe in what you said, truly, then keep saying it. But if for a moment, you think it’s possible you mouthed off on some contrary position because it would provoke people or show them how unconventional your thinking is, then apologize. You’ve insulted your friends family members, your own family and all others who fought.
    Just apologize.

    • Peter

      To be clear folks… The price you pay for opening your mouth should be an equally non-violent response… (ie) Getting Fired…Losing Friends…Censure.
      In the case of Charlie Hebdo the response of violence does not equate to the insult of a picture.
      Otherwise, Peter Hinton’s comment would be valid, particularly if the ANZAC Vets all got together and voted to kill the next person that insults ANZAC Day, and then did so with no regard for the Justice system. Any other comparison is ridiculous. People being shot for their point of view in no way equates to a man being fired for his.

  • Anyone who chooses to publicly insult something they know is honored and revered by millions probably lacks the wisdom to expect the consequences which must follow. Any fool may speak freely – that is often the best way to spot a fool. To speak wisely, and express an unpopular opinion so that the message is not obscured by reactionary backlash, requires intelligent thought and great care. To respect opinions which are different from ours is a skill few people try to learn.

  • gypsyranger

    Mr McIntyre speaks for an increasingly larger number of Australian’s including myself and most of my friends and family. His point of view is valid and real just as the point of view of mourning over the poor unfortunates demise. Let us not forget that. Mr McIntyre sees through the low-brow mentality that too many Australian’s, and the commentors before me, share.

    The glorification of war is disgusting and you should all be disgusted with yourselves for not, at the very least, acknowledging the truth of his comments.

    As for the time and place. THIS is exactly the time and place.

    Meanwhile our criminal government spends half a billion dollars on this mad war propaganda.

    Surrounded by small minded fools

    • Andrew White

      As a devil’s advocate, what purpose does our government have in spending all this money on “war propaganda”. By war propaganda, I assume at this point in time you mean the glorification of ANZAC Day (?). I still agree with other commenters that there is a time and a place to mention these types of opinions. I agree with Scott that these things did/do happen and it is terrible, however, that thought had not crossed my mind on ANZAC Day because I was too focussed on remembering the people that went to war to defend what at that stage was their country (which at that stage people we very close to the monarchy). There will be plenty of other days throughout the year when I will recall and grieve the atrocities that happen in war.

      • gypsyranger

        They are preparing us for war.

        • Heil Hitler

          Britain was a communist country long before the Russian October Revolution, it started with Winston Churchill’s ancestor John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, the progenitor of central banking and fiat currency.

          Britannia is at the lowest literacy level it has ever been… The British, Australians and Canadians couldn’t píss their way out of a circle jerk… their aerospace industry and their naval power is at least a decade behind Russia.

    • Heil Hitler

      The best thing about Russia getting Crimea back… Catherine the Great took it from the Turks… What happened right after Russia retook Crimea? The Russian FSB searched all the Turks living there… Why? NATO sponsors Islamist terrorism when it suits them.

      Ukraine is the same scenario as Serbia… NATO bombs Serbia so the IMF can make loans for rebuilding and get control of Serbian iridium assets… The Kiev junta is just another IMF coup… NATO… North Atlantic Terrorist Organization.

      Like with the other nonsense in Syria, the US State Department armed terrorist rebels to get rid of Gadaffi, the same ones that killed Ambassador Stevens and stole weapons from that secret armory in the basement… The EUSSR needed Libya’s oil, but Muammar Gadaffi decided he wanted gold instead of worthless fiat currency from the EU… What was the first thing they did when Gaddafi was deposed? Form a new government? NOPE, they formed a new Libyan national bank. Now, why would they do that? Even if Muammar was deposed, he and his heirs would still be the sole proprietors, so guess what?

      Leon Puñettas was so busy with gay pride celebrations at the Pentagon, he forgot there was a war. It was easy to dispose of the hated Muammar Gaddafi, but Bashar al Assad has friends… and Russia has real soldiers on their border and no gay pride marches in their army… imagine that… fággot.

      • gypsyranger

        Friends wit the Russians now are you?

        • Heil Hitler

          Russians are white.

  • Peter

    Time and place, how can that be clarified?
    It’s a day set aside to mourn, not glorify war. And definitely not a day to call the dead relatives of your fellow countrymen ‘murderers’
    Do it the day before or the day after or any of the other days of the year. It’s not about limiting freedom, it’s about being insulting to your own people.
    The day you bury your wife you don’t want to hear criticism about her. And you certainly don’t want someone calling you up on the anniversary of her death to insult her posthumously.
    Time and place.

  • ogunsiron

    Was McIntyre one of the innumerable SJW journalists who were gloating about how freedom of speech was basically white men “punching down” and how they didn’t care one bit about freedom of speech when voices other than their own SJW voices needed protection ? People like McIntyre, all over the western world, have made it clear that they have no intention of tolerating voices other than their own. They`ve made it clear that what they’re waging is total war against certain people (white, “drunken”). I for one am glad to see an SJW journalist being on the receiving end of intolerance and backlash. More, much more needs to be done to make shut off the SJW megaphone. They’ve been waging war for a long time now. It’s time their targets started firing back. It’s time the SJW media started to get treated like the treasonous 5th column that it is.

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