Weblogs have spelled big trouble for two US journalists, who both lost their jobs because of what they wrote on their personal web sites.

Houston Chronicle reporter Steve Olafson was fired when his bosses found out that he was criticising local politicians on his site. Mr Olafson wrote about the same politicians for his job on the Chronicle.

Los Angeles radio reporter Ron Fineman claimed he lost his job because he posted a fellow staff member's email on his site which was critical of KCBS TV - owned by the same company that employed him.

In Mr Olafson's case, a competing newspaper revealed his identity to his editors. He was writing for his 'Brazosport News' site under the name Banjo Jones. According to www.houstonpress.com, he called local politician Buster Jones “the state senator with the Hair Club For Men wig”.

When a local city council had problems complying with the Open Meetings Act, the headline was 'Angleton Council: Shining Beacon of Open Government or Taliban-like Nest of Lawbreakers?'

The site also criticised The Chronicle for running the Playboy-Enron story on the front page and noted that its Washington columnist, Cragg Hines, had made news by purchasing a fur lap robe at an auction. ‘It's good to know the Chronicle's man in Washington is sniffing out the important stories we buy his paper for,’ wrote Mr Olafson.

"I started doing it just as a creative outlet," said Mr Olafson, who adds that no more than 20 per cent of the site dealt with political matters.

He said he thought the sacking was an overreaction, adding: “I didn't seriously compromise my ability to be a Chronicle reporter in Houston or in Brazoria County.”

Kelly Hawes, the managing editor of The Facts, whose columns Mr Olafson had ridiculed, said the paper outed the Web columnist because Mr Olafson had gathered information as a journalist and then used it “to take anonymous potshots”.

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