The American Society of News Editors 10 best practices for social media impressed me. The main document is a 50 page PDF with samples and short, case studies.
You don’t have time to read all that so here’s my top ten points with comments.
- Traditional ethics rules still apply online.
– This separates real journalists from bloggers and other citizen journalists. Ethics are part of your personal brand as a journalist.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Independently authenticate anything found on a social networking site.
Just because someone says something, it ain’t necessarily so.
- 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.
- Social networks are tools not toys.
– That doesn’t mean they can’t be fun.
- Be transparent and admit when you’re wrong online.
– I’ve become better at this lately. I thought it was to do with getting older and wiser, but maybe it’s a function of the technology and more accountable news channels.
- Keep internal deliberations confidential.