Nana Aba Anamoah’s social media thievery, backed by her unfettered arrogance and attempt to defend her ill conduct even when it became obvious that she had been busted have attracted a reaction from her employer, TV3.
Nana Aba Anamoah has reportedly been suspended, she has been taken off her air until further notice and the management of the TV3 cites missing ethics and professionalism as the justification behind the station’s “prompt” action.
Every level-headed person would agree with the station that indeed Nana Aba Anamoah’s social media conduct over the years lack basic “journalism” ethics and professionalism, and her recent was no different. The essential question however is; was the decision to take her off air a proportionate response to her Photoshop scandal which she later apologised for, but failed to acknowledge her deceit and thievery, shrewdly saying, it was an intended prank gone wrong.
At this stage, I wouldn’t shilly-shally about, but would say this woman has guts; you stole and lied, you got caught, and then when you are compelled to apologise, you lie again to ‘muddy the waters’. That comes off as guts interlaced with arrogance, perhaps cooked in failure to recognise the extensive impact of her action on her credibility and that of her employer.
All over the world, respectable and credible journalists who work for respectable media institutions are expected to act within certain confinements, as serious minded individuals and even when on a frolic of their own, they hold certain fundamental ethics—that’s what distinguishes them from the ordinary Joe, especially on social media.
A lot of people follow Nana Aba Anamoah on social media because of her keen affiliation with TV3 and more than necessary, she mentions her Twitter handle when on air to gain more followers, mostly TV 3’s audience. Arguably therefore, she’s the poster girl of TV3 on social media—and as such, her tweets and actions ought to mirror certain ethical standards.
So TV3 management’s consideration of ethics and professionalism in this conversation is properly positioned— a top BBC journalist wouldn’t tweet anyhow and say anything on twitter without considering ethics, and I don’t see why Nana Aba Anamoah should enjoy any immunity from the enforcement of such standards in relation to her assumed status.
Now that I have established that work ethics and professionalism transcend the working space when it comes to journalists, especially, those who somewhat have become poster men and women for their employers, let’s look at whether Nana Aba Anamoah indeed fell short of a required standard—and then proceed to consider the proportionality of the punishment or the station’s reaction.
In February 2015, NBC News suspended their ace news anchor and managing editor of News Night-Brian Williams for six months without pay in “the wake of a scandal over misleading statements he made about his time covering the Iraq War in 2003”— Variety reported that this was “to tamp down a controversy growing around one of [NBC News] best-known on-air personalities.” Obviously, no employer wants to be put in the middle of any controversy. It doesn’t matter if you are their best…
In April, ESPN suspended reporter-Britt McHenry after a video of a foul-mouthed rant went viral—and this was an off duty video yet ESPN considered it as a taint on its reputation, considering the fact that the Britt worked for them. Of course Britt apologized, saying, “In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting…As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake.” But this did not beat down the 1 week suspension she served.
Just a few months ago, another ESPN reporter-sport analyst Curt Schilling was suspended for sharing a tweet with a meme which compared Muslims to Nazis and the tweet featured Adolf Hitler’s image. Schilling wrote in the tweet, “The math is staggering when you get to the true #’s.” The words were written above a graphic of Hitler, which included the caption: “It’s said ONLY 5-10% of Muslims are extremists … In 1940, ONLY 7% of Germans were Nazis. How’d that go?” He was duly punished by his employers—and here again, he was doing his own thing on twitter, unrelated to his work.
Even the liberal BBC holds its journalists accountable for their social media activities and in June this year, the BBC disciplined one of its journalists-Ahmen Khawaja for tweeting a ‘silly prank’ that the Queen is dead. It was an intended prank, just as Nana Aba Anamoah claimed hers was, but certain pranks or jokes are expensive—and employers act on them.
CNN and Time Magazine suspended famed columnist and TV host-Fareed Zakaria for ‘unintentional plagiarism’ in August 2012. According to WashingtonPost, Fareed Zakaria “lifted several passages from an article by historian Jill Lepore that was published by the New Yorker magazine in April” and he failed to duly acknowledge the original writer.
Outside the well defined journalistic borders, there are countless cases of employers having suspended their employees for social media misconducts or statements which put their business reputation in contempt—and these decisions are legally and morally justifiable.
What Nana Aba Anamoah did, the accompanying insults, blocking off those who wanted to expose her as lying about the photo and the PR lies placed TV3 in every sentence that mentioned her—so the ridicule was not exclusive to the presenter, it directly placed TV3 at the center of things and no reputable media house would condone such unworthy attention.
Therefore, TV3’s reaction is appropriate and falls within internationally acceptable standards—you want to work for a reputable media outlet, put your house in order and stay away from gratuitously offensive conducts or lies. Then again, would Nana Aba Anamoah be able to perform her duty satisfactory with such a scandal hovering over her head? Someone has to decide and the management rightly did so.
Nevertheless, I have a problem with the suspension’s time line—“further notice” can mean a lot and even though I regard the suspension as appropriate, in fact it would have been inappropriate for TV3 not to have done anything, I find the lack of a specified time as to how long this will last a little problematic. Perhaps, we will get to know this very soon.
If Nana Aba Anamoah is suspended for a month, that would be plainly proportionate but if she is suspended for let’s say 6 months, that would be extensively disproportionate, considering her crime.
Of course those who engulf their credibility and that of their employers in a pool of ridicule must be sanctioned—but the sanction must be appropriate and it’s on the table of befitting punishment that TV3 may err if it outstretches the Nana Aba Anamoah’s chastisement.