Earlier today I saw a Tweet from a local reporter that set me off.
While trying to be humorous Mr. Campbell is not only trotting out his ignorance, but doing it in an offensive way. I'm not schooled in journalism or the ethics and standards of the profession. Somehow I don't believe it is a best practice to appear either ignorant or offensive, let alone accomplish both in just seven words.
Just as annoying is that of the 10 people who 'liked his Tweet, 5 of them are are fellow journalists. I could be drawing an unfounded conclusion: either they share his ignorance (hopefully not) or his poor taste. More than likely, they probably thought it was innocent fun. I'm not laughing.
Tweets or stories like Mr. Campbell's have sometimes gone viral. One person (like me) would get mad and go nuclear. Strategic hastags and outraged language (correctly targeted) could have an devastating impact. I was sorely tempted, but who hasn't put out a dumb Tweet (I know I have). Also, Mr. Campbell is generally a pretty evenhanded reporter (to the extent that the N&O has any - but that is an entirely different debate).
I could have let it go. Had he not been a reporter, I would have gotten temporarily annoyed and moved on. But as a journalist, he is charged with informing the public. Perpetuating ignorance and stereotypes is not part of his calling, but rather his profession is charged with combating them. I thought that I had to draw attention to the issue, and did it with the following Tweet:
@RaleighReporter @thadogburn Care to try #diabetes for a day? I'd be happy to walk you through it. #t1diabetes http://thomasgoffe.com/type-i-diabetes
Rather than unleashing Twitter hell on him, I'd take the opportunity to reach out - to offer a chance to inform him and dispel some stereotypes. A free story. A chance to look like a good guy, which he is (from what I know of him from local folks and legislators who've dealt with him). For good measure, I'll also send a copy of this entry to the other journalists who 'liked' his Tweet.
As my good friend (and employer) Rep. J. H. Langdon often says, "get on the high road and stay there."
I think I'll do that.