Social Media Rules For Journalists

The WSJ gave its journalists some rules about conduct in social media this week according to Editor and Publisher.

Most of them are good common sense rules for everyone using social media. But there are several that I think are wrong and should be rethought. Here are four "rules" that I think should be reconsidered and why.

*
Consult your editor before "connecting" to or "friending" any reporting
contacts who may need to be treated as confidential sources. Openly
"friending" sources is akin to publicly publishing your Rolodex.
>> Most journalists are going to have hundreds to thousands of "friends" in social media. And that is how it should be. We are all putting our rolodexes out there into the public domain. That's one of the trades you make with social media. You publish your social graph in return for getting the power that comes from doing that. And it is not going to be clear who your sources were on a particular story from a list of hundreds to thousands of "friends".

* Let our coverage speak for itself, and don't detail how an article was reported, written or edited.
>> This is a conversational medium. It's not the old world where the reporting was done behind closed doors. The most powerful reporting I see in social media is evolutionary, conversational, and done out in the open.

*
Don't discuss articles that haven't been published, meetings you've
attended or plan to attend with staff or sources, or interviews that
you've conducted.
>> I get great value from talking about investments I plan to make. The feedback and comments I get from those posts informs the investment decision and how we plan to manage the investment once we've made it. The same approach is being used by the most forward thinking journalists. As I said in the previous comment, reporting that is evolutionary, conversational, and done out in the open is often the most powerful way to report. Clearly there are times when it cannot and should not be used, but to say "never do this" is very wrong.

* Business and pleasure should not be mixed on
services like Twitter. Common sense should prevail, but if you are in
doubt about the appropriateness of a Tweet or posting, discuss it with
your editor before sending.

>> This is dead wrong. The friendships and relationships you build on social media build your network and provide the context for reporting opportunities in the future. I learned this early on via this blog. By being myself, talking about things other than work, I built a community of "friends" here at AVC who have helped me on so many ways I can't even begin to enumerate them. Social media is all about mixing personal and business. Those who do it best win.

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