Friday, June 26, 2009

FIRST DOWN: APOLOGY ACCEPTED, BUT LESSON LEARNED?

Communicating on the Internet – be that on a blog, on Facebook or via Twitter – has been likened to standing on a street corner and yelling at whomever passes by, or plastering every light standard everywhere with messages for anyone to come by and look at. The thing is, this isn’t new anymore. People who value the Internet as a communications tool also see the need to watch what they say. Alberta MLA Doug Elniski really should have been one of those people. He has a blog and uses Facebook and Twitter so he should be aware of the inherent peril of mis-communicating in an instantaneous medium. Yet he stumbled headlong into controversy by posting some seemingly sexist comments. What’s worse is that this wasn’t the first time he came under fire for such an online indiscretion. Where Elniski gained yards towards credibility was in his apology. He addressed those he had offended, explained the context in which he had made the comments, admitted fault, allowed himself to be self-effacing and conceded that he had learned a lesson. "In hindsight, it was a stupid, inappropriate thing to put on the blog," he admitted. "It completely missed the message I was trying to achieve." His apology was accepted by other Alberta politicians including Premier Ed Stelmach. But how he moves forward – both in actions and in what he says – will determine if he can shake the unappetizing moniker he’s earned as the politician who put the “twit” in Twitter. And since he only won his seat by fewer than 200 votes in the last Alberta election, it remains to be seen just what the voters think of Elniski’s attempt at redemption.

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