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11/30/2004

The first Swedish blogger bites the dust

PgOutspoken Swedish political blogger and public service TV producer Per Gudmundson has been told in no uncertain terms to shut down his increasingly popular eponymous blog: “My boss says the blog runs counter to our policy of refraining from public commentary and action that could be construed as biased.” 

Swedish public service broadcasting has recently been embroiled in controversy over the impartiality of its news reporting following unfortunate comments by a political reporter regarding her unabashed support for then-U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry. Gudmundson quite aptly noted in his final post: “I’m doubtless a walking PR disaster.” 

Indeed. The Gudmundson case is a wake-up call for Big Media in Sweden. Journalists could be blogging on their spare time, exposing their unwitting employers to unnecessary negative publicity or scrutiny. Imagine, for instance, being the CEO of SVT, Sweden’s public service television broadcaster, and getting the following question from a journalist: “One of your employees wrote on her weblog that the prime minister should be shot for his comments on gender equality. Any comment?” Yikes. 

Gudmundson did the right thing by telling his employer, though belatedly, about his blog; however, he should have had that conversation months ago. 

Hopefully, media companies will now recognize the communicative power inherent in blogs and create a workable blogging policy for inclined employees. Bloggers can be excellent ambassadors for businesses and organizations, but there has to be a clear set of guidelines in place. The point is not to stifle creativity or freedom of expression, but rather to recognize that as an employee one is a de facto spokesperson.

That said, I'm sad to see Gudmundson disappear from Sweden's blogging landscape.  His special brand of irreverence and wit will be sorely missed. //Billy McCormac

Update (response to "Clooney"): Per is not getting fired... he has been asked to shutter his blog. More, Per does not just have any old job: he is the producer--i.e., he is in charge of content for--two news programs on a public service channel.

I believe there is room in public service for bloggers; however, Per should have been upfront with his employer before launching the blog. Indeed, most of the people in management there have no idea what a blog is.

How are they supposed to "get it" if it is sprung on them? Per should have approached them much earlier with a proposal and guidelines.

Further, Swedish public service is facing a great deal of scrutiny about its impartiality. They'd rather remove all doubt than green-light a project that, in their eyes, will only draw more negative press.

Hopefully, they will be smart about this and draw up a set of workable blogging guidelines for staff. After all, Swedish public service journalists (e.g. Björn Elmbrant) write opinionated books on politics and they are still permitted to report the news.

November 30, 2004 in Posts in English | Permalink

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Swedish Public Television has ordered political blogger Per Gudmundson to shut down his blog. Gudmundson is a producer for Swedish television. JKL blog reports [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 30, 2004 1:26:06 PM

Comments

Very sad with the Gudmundson blog. At least he is still with Studio 24 on SVT24 - one of the more watchable programs on SVT. One fine day he may return as a blogger.

One question: What does CEO stand for? I have come across this abbreviation before, but have not been able to 'decode' it.

Olaf

Posted by: Olaf at Nov 30, 2004 1:49:56 PM

Chief Executive Officer, US English for "verkställande direktör".

Posted by: Johan Anglemark at Nov 30, 2004 2:18:35 PM

CEO = Chief Executive Officer. In Swedish, "Verkställande Direktör".

Posted by: H. Elpful at Nov 30, 2004 4:04:14 PM

Inte bara tråkigt och ledsamt, utan upprörande. Läs vad Johan Norberg skriver om Gudmundson och statsmedia:
http://www.johannorberg.net/?page=displayblog&month=12&year=2004#688

Posted by: Sredna at Dec 1, 2004 11:10:40 AM

För övrigt tog ordet "blog" tätplatsen i år:
http://edition.cnn.com/2004/TECH/internet/11/30/words.of.the.year.reut/index.html

Posted by: Sredna at Dec 1, 2004 11:26:12 AM

VAd betyder BLOG?
VAd är det?mvh
christer h.

Posted by: christer hugerth at Dec 1, 2004 12:47:09 PM

Christer - Med risk för att du driver med mig och att jag går på det:
Definitionen står i CNN-artikeln:
"a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks,"
Blog är en förkortning av web logg.

Posted by: Sredna at Dec 1, 2004 2:41:21 PM

I have to *strongly* disagree with the message in this blog post. It is *not* in the employer's right to censor the lives of it's employees outside working hours - especially not discriminating against certain opinions!
Being liberal in Sweden can *hardly* qualify for getting fired - not according to any labour-law what so ever.

Posted by: Clooney at Dec 2, 2004 12:49:04 PM

Per is not getting fired, Clooney...he has been asked to shutter his blog. More, Per does not just have any old job: he is the producer--i.e., he is in charge of content for--a news program on a public service channel.

I believe there is room in public service for bloggers; however, Per should have been upfront with his employer before launching the blog. Indeed, most of the people in management there have no idea what a blog is.

How are they supposed to "get it" if it is sprung on them? Per should have approached them much earlier with a proposal and guidelines.

Further, Swedish public service is facing a great deal of scrutiny about its impartiality. They'd rather remove all doubt than green-light a project that, in their eyes, will only draw more negative press.

Hopefully, they will be smart about this and draw up a set of workable blogging guidelines for staff. After all, Swedish public service journalists (e.g. Björn Elmbrant) write opinionated books on politics and they are still permitted to report the news.

Posted by: Billy McCormac at Dec 2, 2004 7:00:43 PM

If people in public service media "have no idea what a blog is", like Billy McCormac suggests, they should learn fast or get out of the media business.

Posted by: Sredna at Dec 8, 2004 9:27:14 AM

Having blogger like this is very interesting getting an idea what is your blog about and information.

Posted by: consultants at Jan 11, 2006 6:20:17 AM