The suspension of New York Times columnist Andrew Goldman after posting offensive comments on Twitter has once again focused debate on the practicality or otherwise of social media ‘codes of conduct’ for journalists. Goldman, a freelance writer who regularly contributes the ‘Talk’ feature of the NYT magazine, found himself in hot water after he responded intemperately to criticism of his line of questioning to the Hollywood actress Tippi Hedren in a previous article. The subsequent altercation on the micro-blogging site with novelist Jennifer Weiner and others did not, to echo the Emperor of Japan in 1945, necessarily develop to his advantage.
Ironically, the initial question posed to Hedren – whether she had ever considered sleeping with a director in order to advance her career – might be reasonably defended as cheeky yet not entirely inappropriate, particularly since she was famed for having rebuffed the lecherous advances of Alfred Hitchcock, to the considerable detriment of her career. His tweeted response, however, proved to be what some are already calling the ‘Tippi point’ vis a vis giving him the benefit of the doubt: