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This past week, the New York Times released social media guidelines for its reporters. The new guidelines are worth reading – and maybe even “borrowing – for your team. Here's a sample:
• “Our journalists should be especially mindful of appearing to take sides on issues that The Times is seeking to cover objectively.”
• “While you may think that your Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram, Snapchat or other social media accounts are private zones, separate from your role at The Times, in fact everything we post or 'like' online is to some degree public. And everything we do in public is likely to be associated with The Times.”
• “Always treat others with respect on social media. If a reader questions or criticizes our work or social media post, and you would like to respond, be thoughtful. Do not imply that the person hasn't carefully read your work.”
• “If the criticism is especially aggressive or inconsiderate, it's probably best to refrain from responding.”
• “Be transparent. If you tweeted an error or something inappropriate and wish to delete the tweet, be sure to quickly acknowledge the deletion in a subsequent tweet.”
(All quotes taken directly from The New York Times - “The Times Issues Social Media Guidelines for the Newsroom” - October 13, 2017)
Having written social media guidelines gives you and your team a standard to reference when selecting topics and comments to post. In our social media-obsessed world, it's worthwhile to have concrete guidelines to protect yourself, your team and your station from posting something that your audience may view offensive, inappropriate or politically charged. If you do not have social media guidelines in place, take a cue from the New York Times and set up standards for your team today.
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