This morning’s outburst by Radio 702 graveyard shift news reader, Mark Esterhuysen, has been the source of many jokes on Twitter this morning but it does raise an interesting issue: Should media organisations be actively monitoring their staff on social networks?
Esterhuysen’s expletive-laden outburst (don’t listen if you’re easily offended by the F-word), clearly took the radio station by surprise. So much surprise that Esterhuysen had enough time to advertise his blog and Twitter account before being drowned out by a Rod Stewart tune, and apparently escorted out the building by security.
In retrospect, however, his outburst is not entirely surprising. His blog is fair evidence of his mindset. His Twitterstream is the same. Should someone at Primedia have checked his online comments and have been alert to the possibility that Esterhuysen would lose it on air? Perhaps. But it is a tough task to monitor all staff.
At the very least it’s surprising that someone, before they hired Esterhuysen, didn’t do a basic online search before leaving him alone with their radio station. If they had they would probably have raised a warning flag, or perhaps not employed him at all.
I wonder how many media organisations are this morning getting their human resource departments to check out the online profiles of staff members? Or perhaps even considering making it obligatory for employees to disclose their online identities to HR when being employed so that they can be monitored regularly? I hope not but I suspect, as Gus Silber tweeted this morning, this will become “a case study in checking social media as standard recruitment policy”.