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WaPo's Social Media Guidelines
September 27, 2009 2:42 PM   Subscribe

The Washington Post has issued new Social Media Guidelines for all employees. From the memo: "All Washington Post journalists relinquish some of the personal privileges of private citizens."

Further: "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." Staff writer Gene Weingarten had an inspired Tweet to mark the occasion.
posted by Ike_Arumba (24 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
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

As long as George Will sticks to regular articles though, continuing to tarnish their journalistic credibility is fine.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:49 PM on September 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


they have to "relinquish some of the personal privileges of private citizens" or create the semblance they live above perspectivism and thus bias?
posted by liza at 3:18 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wish they'd stick to some guidelines about the use of "anonymous sources within the administration," too.
posted by GamblingBlues at 3:36 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why are they pandering to people who hate them?
posted by WPW at 3:40 PM on September 27, 2009


As long as George Will sticks to regular articles though

He's writing Op Eds, not articles, so the rules are a little diffrent.

What I find odd is the idea that if newspapers somehow hide the biases and personal opinions of their writers, that people will think they don't exist. Stupid.
posted by delmoi at 3:41 PM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


He's writing Op Eds, not articles, so the rules are a little diffrent.

Given this is about integrity, you'd think the "rules" even for op-eds require to not outright lie about a source for a factual inaccuracy in your editorial.

That's sort of my point and what makes this whole thing so laughable- the media, both television and print, has obsessively marched toward making as much of their content "opinion" and "debate" based as possible in order to cover their asses in the context of increasingly shittier journalism. How interesting that the one outlet they not go after are Twitter and blogs, which just coincidentally happen to be the fastest and most frequent in calling them on this.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:55 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


they already relinquished the privilege of critical thinking.
posted by Glibpaxman at 3:59 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Rights Corporations Of Corporations Are More Important Than The Rights Of Human Beings

thus sayeth the lord
posted by DU at 4:01 PM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


Staff writer Gene Weingarten apparently ants us to believe he's a turd, too. I don't much care what he thinks.

This problem is easily solved: the WaPo an go the Economist route and have everyone write anonymously. If the overall quality of the paper is sufficiently good, lack of an individual byline need not be a barrier to anyone's journalistic success.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:02 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


apparently wants d'oh.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:25 PM on September 27, 2009


Having no visible biases keeps us truthy.
posted by zennie at 4:34 PM on September 27, 2009


Now following on Twitter: Gene Weingarten.

Other than that...is this really a big deal? Lots of employers have some equivalent of "social media guidelines."
posted by naoko at 4:38 PM on September 27, 2009


82 social media policies
posted by furtive at 4:39 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Make that 99, hehe.
posted by furtive at 4:40 PM on September 27, 2009


I have written 350 restaurant reviews for The Times Tweets and i have never ended on an unstressed syllable. Fuck. fuck, fuck, fuck
posted by Nick Verstayne at 4:59 PM on September 27, 2009


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

Privileges, not rights?
posted by orthogonality at 5:15 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


"All Washington Post journalists employees relinquish some of the personal privileges of private citizens." Yeah, that's a FTFY.

I was working for a corporation in which Richard Riordan had about a 10% ownership share (his legal firm had helped set it up when it split off a larger company) at the time he first ran for Mayor of Los Angeles (and won). I asked my boss if it was OK to put a bumper sticker on my car supporting Riordan's opponent and he asked me if I wanted to park my car in the company lot. I said yes, he said no. There is no workplace-based right of Free Speech and the journalists of the Washington Post are specifically employed to aid the Washington Post Corporation to practice ITS Freedom of the Press. Any employee of a News Media Entity who is less important than Lou Dobbs is at CNN ignores that at their own peril.
posted by wendell at 5:52 PM on September 27, 2009


I don't think it's a draconian expectation. Bylines acquire brand value, and it goes both ways considering that guilds use byline strikes as a negotiating tactic with management. Ventriloquism is a useful skill inside the Beltway, anyway. Suit up the sock puppets.
posted by woodway at 6:29 PM on September 27, 2009


Given this is about integrity, you'd think the "rules" even for op-eds require to not outright lie about a source for a factual inaccuracy in your editorial.

I didn't say he wasn't an idiot and the WaPo debases itself by publishing his writing, and I wouldn't, because he is and they are.
posted by delmoi at 6:32 PM on September 27, 2009


Wow, what a gutless bunch of buffoons.

"All Washington Post journalists relinquish some of the personal privileges of private citizens"? Now that's deluded and reactionary...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 6:38 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is the Washington Post even going to be around in 5 years!?
posted by PhotoFilter at 8:59 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


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

I don't think this is unreasonable at all. Whatever you think of the Washington Post as a publication, its journalists draw much of their professional credibility from their association with that masthead. Their status as Post journalists gives them both the privilege, and the responsibility, of having their words taken seriously in the public sphere. That means that what they say in public will be associated with their employer, whether that was their intent or not.

The newspaper isn't being backward by reminding its employees that what they say online may have real-world consequences. It's actually doing the exact opposite; finally, it's really grokking what online media people have been trying to tell the old guard for years: that the internet is just a tool, a means to an end. Social media, specifically, is a tool for communicating with other human beings and engaging in public debate. If you make an ass out of yourself using social media, you make an ass out of yourself in real life!

You'd be surprised how many journalists don't understand this. I think it's admirable that the Post has developed a policy and made it public. Would you rather they continued to pretend the internet doesn't exist?
posted by embrangled at 1:46 AM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


As long as Anne Applebaum sticks to undisclosed conflicts of interest, continuing to tarnish their journalistic credibility is fine.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:11 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think this is unreasonable at all.

Nor do I, and it's not even new, nor unusual. This has been the understanding of most journalists since the mid-20th century development of the objective voice. Most journalists I know accept that their role with regard to the public record and the public trust means that it would harm the reportorial function of the paper/outlet for them to participate in campaigning for a candidate, accept large gifts from political or business figures, and the like. Most vote, but they're quiet about it. Some papers restrict reporters from making campaign donations. This is a reasonable policy to prevent the appearance of unethical bias.
posted by Miko at 1:39 PM on September 28, 2009


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