It’s been around long enough that we can stop calling it “new media”, and now that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the rest are becoming more firmly entrenched in the day-to-day business of commerce and earning a living, the big questions are starting to get more attention.
As in, what’s considered “ethical” and “professional” when it comes to the use of social media in an editorial context?
For a lot of freelancers, it’s just a question of making sure you don’t alienate your current or potential future employers with a lot of random, possibly off-putting posts you’re likely to regret the next day after the fun is over.
But for others, it’s a lot more serious than that. Case in point, a recent blog post by Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing.net reporting that Sky News has issued strict new social media rules for its journalists with regard to Twitter use on official accounts.
Doctorow writes, “Under the new policy, Sky reporters are prohibited from retweeting from rival journalists and the public (though they are allowed to retweet each other). They are also not allowed to tweet about subjects that aren’t their beat. Finally, they’re prohibited from “personal” tweets in their professional accounts.”
When it was still called “new media” and the anything-goes frontier had many treading without care or caution, some thrived, some lost their jobs, and some just didn’t participate in the social media fun and games. But all that’s changing and more than ever, freelance or not, social media is a vital part of networking and information gathering.
The fact that professional codes of conduct are being formed on an organizational basis means in the next couple of years you might wake up finding a de facto standard of professionalism with regard to these things that wasn’t here at the time I’m writing this.
Sure, there are plenty of unwritten rules of the road now, but lest we forget, once upon a time the rules of journalistic ethics weren’t so formalized, either.
Now, it’s easy (at least for an experienced observer) to distinguish between the practices of a blogger, who can rant on and on with few consequences (except to reputation and future employability) and a bona fide journalist who is guided by a set of rules for fact-checking, source verification, attribution, etc. Not that all journos follow those rules all the time, but you see where I’m coming from…
These types of stories are the ones to watch for anyone interested in social media theory, journalism, etc.
Joe Wallace is a writer, editor, social media manager, and collector of weirdness on vinyl LPs.
Wallace runs the vinyl record collector’s blog, Turntabling.net, has snarky things to say about bad album covers, and writes short italicized bios about himself in the third person.
His book, WTF Records: A Turntabling.net Guide to Weird and Wonderful Vinyl, is in the final stages and should be inflicted on an unsuspecting public by Christmas. He’s not saying WHICH Christmas yet, mind you…