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Washington Post Social Media Policy Faces Criticism

Should Journalists Be Allowed to Have Opinions?

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The Washington Post has sent a memo to its editors/journalists outlining the publication’s social media policies. They don’t leave too many options for what is actually allowed to take place on social networks. This is an issue that never really seems to go away, and is brought up every time a publication’s social media policies are discovered.

The topic has come up with both Dow Jones and Gannett to name a couple, just within the past year. The policies come out, and the blogosphere criticizes them. PaidContent has the entire document of the Washington Post’s guidelines. Some highlights include:

- When using these networks, nothing we do must call into question the impartiality of our news judgment.  We never abandon the guidelines that govern the separation of news from opinion, the importance of fact and objectivity, the appropriate use of language and tone, and other hallmarks of our brand of journalism.

- All Washington Post journalists relinquish some of the personal privileges of private citizens.

- Post journalists must refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything—including photographs or video—that could be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism that could be used to tarnish our journalistic credibility. This same caution should be used when joining, following or friending any person or organization online.  Post journalists should not be involved in any social networks related to advocacy or a special interest regarding topics they cover, unless specifically permitted by a supervising editor for reporting and so long as other standards of transparency are maintained while doing any such reporting.

Washington Post on Twitter

Some in the blogosphere take issue with the fact that journalists working for the Washington Post are not allowed to express themselves as the human beings that they are, even in their own personal social networking, separate from the publication. The Post considers anything its journalists say on social networks the same as if they were including it in their bylines in the publication.

Critics of the policies feel that the Washington Post (and other publications with similar policies) are only stifling their social media efforts by taking away the human element that real people can connect with. The Post appears to feel that opinions run the risk of damaging the publications reputation. Both sides have reasonable points.

What do you think of the Post’s policies on social media? Do you think journalists should be allowed to say whatever they want on personal social network accounts? Share your thoughts.

Washington Post Social Media Policy Faces Criticism
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