Peoples Gazette has suspended Ayoola Babalola, one of its talented and respected reporters, over his conduct online that violated the newspaper’s social media policy and called into question its integrity.
Mr Babalola also agreed to attend counselling during the suspension to further enhance his conduct, according to the decision, which was announced in a company-wide memo from Deputy Managing Editor Boladale Adekoya on Tuesday.
“Ayoola Babalola met with the HR, where he was directed to proceed on suspension for one month without pay,” Mr Adekoya said in the internal memo sent to all newsroom employees.
“Mr Babalola is a vibrant and respected member of the organisation’s editorial team,” the publication’s senior staff noted, but stressed the reporter’s “conduct on social media, both from months past and as recently as last weekend, grossly violated the organisation’s guideline on personnel conduct.”
The management made the decision after carefully reviewing the reporter’s scathing retorts to relentless online trolls and concluded that Mr Babalola did not act with decorum and professionalism expected of The Gazette’s employees.
Mr Adekoya, however, noted the suspension was a challenging decision “for the organisation: Mr Babalola faced vicious attacks on social media following our scoop on Peter Obi’s phone call with Bishop Oyedepo.”
“Still, while the organisation sympathises and stands strongly with Mr Babalola and all staff members who come frequently under social media onslaught, the manner with which colleagues handle online trolls is what distinguishes us as professionals.”
Although the controversial tweets had been taken down by Mr Babalola, screenshots of the tweets could still “impugn our professionalism PG well into the future. This should never have happened,” the senior editor stressed.
“The management appreciates Mr Babalola’s service and cooperation in the course of handling this situation. This informed the decision to let him proceed on one-month suspension with counselling.”
The senior editor expressed optimism in welcoming back Mr Babalola into the organisation after his suspension and counselling sessions were over.
“We are happy to welcome Mr Babalola back to continue his fearless journalism in this organisation,” said Mr Adekoya in the final paragraph of the memo.
Mr Babalola said he would abide by the management’s decision on the matter after noticing how newsroom colleagues expressed concerns about his posts that they say could vitiate their own work.
The company’s employee handbook allows editorial staff members to express themselves on social media, but discourages the use of offensive language.
Mr Babalola currently covers the political desk at The Gazette and has previously worked with U.S.-based Sahara Reporters.