Home > future of journalism, journalism industry, weekly JOU4342C post > What are the Essential Aspects for a Social Media Policy?

What are the Essential Aspects for a Social Media Policy?

This is a post that I’ll probably be editing and modifying as I learn more about social media policies (full disclosure: I am assisting my news organization in creating one).

That being said, part of a recent Journalism Ethics class had me searching for information on this subject. Of the many news organization ethics policies we read for class, very few involved any mention of social media. When groups in the class created their own ethics policies, two of the six groups recommended that their news organizations ban the use of personal blogs and other social media involvement by their journalists.

Obviously, I disagree. I understand the need to protect objectivity and the appearance thereof, but journalists do have interests other than the subjects they cover and should be allowed to blog or participate in social conversations about them.

Here’s some of the recommendations I had in terms of a social media policy:

A journalist is always a journalist, whether they’re working directly in that role or as a private citizen and social media network participation should reflect that professional commitment.

All public social networking profiles should include the journalist’s real name and make their occupation clear.

If asking for input that could be used as material in a published report, obtain explicit permission from the subject or preface the inquiry with a warning thereof.

Social network thrive on interaction. When using social networks to enhance coverage by finding sources or promoting work, journalists must make their affiliation with the news network clear.

Use respect when making posts about the news organization and co-workers.

Social media networks should never be used as a means of revenge or clearing the air. Discuss any problems with an editor or manager at the news organization before airing grievances.

Transparency is encouraged but confidential information, exclusive content and sensitive internal communication should remain so.

What do you think? Does your organization have a social media policy and, if so, how would you improve upon it?

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