EdMedia Commons Archive

Social Media: What’s Your Newroom’s Policy?

It was somewhat surprising to learn that the New York Times doesn’t have a written policy to guide its reporters through the sometimes murky waters of social media.

In an interview with the Poynter Institute’s Jeff Sonderman, Times’ associate managing editor for standards Phil Corbett explains that the overarching goal was not to discourage or hamper reporters from embracing social media as a tool. At the same time, Corbett says:

“They need to realize that social media is basically a public activity, it’s not a private activity, and that people will know that they work for the Times, that they are Times journalists, and will identify them with the Times. And so they should just keep that in mind and be careful not to do anything on social media that would undercut their credibility.”

Corbett adds that so far, “this approach seems to be working for us. People have been smart about it, and thoughtful.”

There’s no shortage of examples of reporters who haven’t been “smart” about using social media, often to the detriment of their own careers. Does your newsroom have a written policy? If yes, what are the penalties for failing to comply? If there isn’t a written policy, are there any de facto rules that have evolved that you and your colleagues are expected to follow? Would you prefer a written policy, or something akin to the Times’ more holistic approach?

This post originally appeared on EWA’s now-defunct online community, EdMedia Commons. Old content from EMC will appear in the Ed Beat archives.