The American Society of News Editors 10 lists best practices for social media. The main document is a 50 page PDF with samples and short, case studies.
You probably don’t have time to read all that so here are the 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. Forget them at your peril.
- 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 still 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. Bad language may only diminish your brand at the edges, but you never did have much margin for error.
- 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.