Social Media for Responsible Journalists

Posted by Olivia Young

We’ve come a long way since the days of Xanga and MySpace: Social media networks are so much more than casual ways to connect. They’re the new tools for marketing, job hunting, socializing and even reporting.

Like others in the public eye, journalists have to be especially careful with social media. 140 characters on Twitter or an unprofessional post on Facebook can devastate the career of the unwary reporter. Journalists must also be conscious of how to effectively get their messages to a huge – and fickle – audience.

How often should reporters tweet about the latest tragic news story? Should journalists “friend” their sources on Facebook?

Is there a "right" way for journalists to use social media? Photo by 92YTribeca on Flickr via Creative Commons.

Mashable offers a few answers to these questions in a recent article, “4 Social Media Rules Journalists Should Break.

The first rule to break is “Don’t Cross Post on Social Networks.” Some social media gurus recommend journalists avoid posting the same messages to various sites because it’s redundant,  but Mashable disagrees. By cross-posting, you’ll get the message out more effectively, especially to a user who doesn’t check all of his or her social networks on a regular basis. (Mashable also suggests using a scheduling platform like HootSuite to make life a little easier.)

The article recommends three other rules to break: “Don’t Schedule Social Media Posts,” “Follow/Friend/Subscribe to Everyone Who Follows You,” and “Don’t Repeat Yourself.” These guidelines help journalists manage their valuable time while building their online presence.

Social media isn’t brand new, but it’s new enough that we’re still figuring out what works. A not-so-informal code of ethics is developing, defined further by the AP’s decision to add a set of social media guidelines to the AP Stylebook. For me, accurate grammar is a must for plugged-in journalists. It proves journalists know what they’re doing and took the time to cut that Tweet down to 140 characters—without using outdated acronyms.

Does journalism have a place on social media sites? Are there rules for journalists using Twitter or Facebook as news outlets? If so, what are they?


One response to “Social Media for Responsible Journalists

  1. Journalism obviously has a place in social media. All reputable publications are online. However, the concerns you addressed are relevant. I don’t think there’s a “right” answer to most of them, but it’s important to evaluate everything you post or tweet, and also contemplate why you are going to add someone.

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