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I'm an assistant professor at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, where I teach and research how news sites can better reach their audiences. I received my Ph.D. from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri where I was one of the founding editors of MyMissourian.com, a citizen journalism site for Columbia, Mo. Before graduate school, I worked as a community newspaper editor in Southern Utah and Southern California.

Remember you’re human before watching someone’s online gaffe

Yesterday’s post about making social media work for you got me thinking about a link I saved a long time ago. It also made me remember all the mean attack ads I had just watched before the election. I had to ask myself why we are so quick to condemn one another for something that everyone of us has probably done at one time.

Look, we all make mistakes and we all whine from time to time. I’m sure I’ve griped about students before. I hope I remember this next time I see someone messing up. I hope it makes me understand them better.

I haven’t been easy on politicians. I love showing my classes the Joe Biden Gaffe collection on YouTube, and there are scores of others out there, even one from Time magazine.

I actually had an opportunity once in my career to publish a candidate’s insensitive statement before an official speech, and I didn’t. Most of my journalism colleagues would probably say I missed the boat, but it was pretty clear to me what was said was a joke.

I’m not saying we should give candidates, or anyone else for that matter, a free pass. If you say or do something dumb, you should know that it might get out, especially in today’s privacy-deprived world.

But I would also hope that we remember we are all human. We all make mistakes. Instead of watching someone slip up and saying, “I’m glad that wasn’t me,” maybe we should be saying, “You know, that could have been me. Maybe I’ll cut this person some slack.”

PhotoCredit: This is my screen capture of Obama0808008’s video that purportedly shows Vice President Joe Biden drunkenly singing about The Villages: American’s friendliest home town, I mean, Florida’s Friendliest Home Town.

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