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Ten best social media practices for journalists

The American Society of News Editors lists the 10 best social media practices. The main document is a 50 page PDF with samples and short, case studies.

Sadly, it’s no longer online. But you probably wouldn’t have had time to read it all anyway. So here’s a quick look at the top ten points with comments.

  1. Traditional ethics rules still apply online.
    Ethics separate real journalists from bloggers and other citizen journalists. Cynics may laugh, but the best journalists are ethical. It’s part of your personal brand as a journalist. Forget them at your peril.
  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 still 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. Bad language may only diminish your brand at the edges, but you never did have much margin for error.
  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. Likewise armies of bots out to muddy the picture.
  6. Independently authenticate anything found on a social networking site.
    Just because someone says something, it ain’t necessarily so. If you’re not an eyewitness, find a source you trust.
  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.
  9. 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. For me it’s one of the best social media practices I’ve learnt to adopt. It can be hard to do this.
  10. Keep internal deliberations confidential.
    – doh!

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