CNN Fires Producer Over Personal Blog

“CNN has fired one of its producers because of his personal blog. Chez Paziena, the ex-producer, has stated that he started the blog ‘mostly to pass the time, hone my writing skills, resurrect my voice a little, and keep my mind sharp following the [brain tumor] surgery.’ After a few months, CNN found out about it and ended up letting him go because his ‘name was “attached to some, uh, ‘opinionated’ blog posts” circulating around the internet.'”

[Via Slashdot]

Thank god for blogger bosses.

Some random excerpts from his post on The Hufington Post:

Last Monday afternoon, I got a call from my boss, Ed Litvak

They hammered home a single line in the CNN employee handbook which states that any writing done for a “non-CNN outlet” must be run through the network’s standards and practices department

I let them know exactly what I had thought when I read the rule, namely that it was staggeringly vague and couldn’t possibly apply to something as innocuous as a blog. (I didn’t realize until later that CNN had canned a 29-year-old intern for having the temerity to write about her work experiences – her positive work experiences – in a password-protected online journal a year earlier.)

I told both my boss and HR representative that a network which prides itself on being so internet savvy – or promotes itself as such, ad nauseam – should probably specify blogging and online networking restrictions in its handbook. I said that they can’t possibly expect CNN employees, en masse, to not engage in something as popular and timely as blogging if they don’t make themselves perfectly clear.

My HR rep’s response: “Well, as far as we know, you’re the only CNN employee who’s blogging under his own name.”

When I asked, just out of curiosity, who came across my blog and/or the columns in the Huffington Post, the woman from HR answered, “We have people within the company whose job is specifically to research this kind of thing in regard to employees.”

A few minutes later, I was off the phone and out of a job. No severance. No warning (which would’ve been a much smarter proposition for CNN as it would’ve put the ball effectively in my court and forced me to decide between my job or the blog). No nothing. Just, go away.

I’m dead sure though that my superiors never concerned themselves with my ability or inability to remain objective at work, given my strong opinions; they worried only about an appearance of bias (specifically, a liberal bias), and apparently they worried about it more than any potential fallout from firing a popular blogger with an audience that was already large and was sure to grow much larger when news of his firing put him in the national spotlight.

As far as CNN (and to be fair, the mainstream TV press in general) believes, it still sits comfortably at the top of the food chain, unthreatened by any possibility of a major paradigm shift being brought to bear by a horde of little people with laptops and opinions. Although the big networks recognize the need to appeal to bloggers, they don’t fear them – and that means that they don’t respect them. Corporate-think dictates that the mainstream television press as a monstrous multi-headed hydra is the ultimate news authority and therefore is in possession of the one and only hotline to the ghosts of Murrow and Sevareid. Sure those bloggers are entertaining, but in the end they’re really just insects who either feed off the carcasses of news items vetted through various networks or, when they do break stories, want nothing more than to see themselves granted an audience by the kingmakers on television.

CNN fired me, and did it without even a thought to the power that I might wield as an average person with a brain, a computer, and an audience. The mainstream media doesn’t believe that new media can embarrass them, hurt them or generally hold them accountable in any way, and they’ve never been more wrong.

I’m suddenly in a position to do all three, and I know now that this is what I’ve been working toward the last few years of my career.