What is it with Fairfax columnists making inappropriate comments on twitter this week? Firstly there was Catherine Deveny’s logie tweets, which resulted in her sacking, and then on the very day that Miranda Devine published an article warning that not trashing the brand is more important than ever she ended up in a slanging match with another twitter user.

Now ‘twitspits’ are hardly newsworthy, robust debate on twitter is par for the course as there is very little room for prevarication or lengthy explainations, however the tweet from Devine seems amazing in light of her urging caution in others. Twitter user @justinbarbour seems to have initiated things with the following tweet
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How did Miranda Devine respond to a critic?

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@justinbarbour unsurprisingly took offence and so began a string of tweeted demands for apologies from both parties. At some point Devine obviously had second thoughts about her ‘gerbil’ sledge and deleted it, prompting @justinbarbour to post a screenshot of the comment.
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But in addition to that twitpic, the whole conversation is still readable in the twitter search. When attention was drawn to what Devine had tweeted more than one person commented on the irony of Devine failing to heed her own advice.

It will be interesting to see what action, if any, Fairfax take over this twitspit. Devine and Deveny write, or wrote, for different mastheads, with different editors, the target of this offensive comment was a semi-anonymous twitter user rather than a high profile child star and jokes about bestiality and child sexual abuse aren’t on a par in popular consciousness. However, given the way that Deveny was hung out to dry, can this incident simply slip under the radar? Will we see radio presenters and columnists from other papers questioning Devine’s suitability as a columnist?

Devine herself noted that

Deveny never pretended to be what she wasn’t… She is a talent. But she has never claimed to be a journalist or have the slightest interest in news.

Will a journalist be held to the same standards as a comedian? It seems that the discussion about journalists and social media has a long way to go yet.

Update: The screen capture of the twitter search has been updated to place the tweets in order, and include the Direct Message from Miranda Devine to @justinbarbour.

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