Ten best social media practices for journalists

I’m impressed by The American Society of News Editors 10 best practices for social media. The main document is a 50 page PDF with samples and short, very short, case studies.

Here’s the top ten list with my commentary on each point.

  1. Traditional ethics rules still apply online.
    – This is one thing separating real journalists from bloggers and other citizen journalists. Ethics are part of your personal brand as a journalist.
  2. Assume everything you write online will become public.
    – there are private channels on most social media tools, use them if you need to, but remember people may broadcast them later.
  3. Use social media to engage with readers, but professionally.
    – Just because other people are chatty, use bad language and behave badly doesn’t mean you have to.
  4. Break news on your website, not on Twitter.
    – Apart from anything else, there’s no simple way to turn a tweet into money. At least web traffic may attract advertising revenue.
  5. Beware of perceptions.
    – They are not reality. Remember some of the tweets you see are from professional spinners who are masters of the realm of perceptions.
  6. Independently authenticate anything found on a social networking site.
    Just because someone says something, it ain’t necessarily so.
  7. Always identify yourself as a journalist.
    – I’m not sure how practical this is. My profile says I’m a journalist. Most people who know me understand I’m a journalist.
  8. Social networks are tools not toys.
    – That doesn’t mean they can’t be fun though.
  9. Be transparent and admit when you’re wrong online.
    – I’ve become much better at this lately. I thought it was to do with getting older and wiser, but maybe its a function of the technology and more accountable news channels.
  10. Keep internal deliberations confidential.
    – doh!

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