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Questions And Answers About Journalists’ Opinions In Social Media

6 Feb

STEVE BUTTRY, DIRECTOR of Community Engagement and Social Media for Digital First Media, recently wrote about reporters expressing opinions in social media.

From The Buttry Diary, Feb. 6, 2012:

A reporter asks about tweeting his opinion about the Occupy Oakland protests:

My first impulse was to tweet my personal gut response: that I didn’t understand protests and flag burning in my generation and I don’t now. I also wanted to tweet that once Occupy got violent, that ended the argument for me.

But I had misgivings about whether I should post any kind of opinion at all, so I refrained.

Steve’s response:

I’ll start by reminding you (or informing you, if you haven’t seen them yet) of John Paton’s rules for employee use of social media. John does not mean by these rules that anything goes, just that we want our use of social media to be guided by good journalism ethics (rather than specific social media rules) and don’t want our exploration of new tools to be inhibited by restrictive rules based on fear and ignorance.

Starting from there, my response is based on three main principles:

  1. Opinions are not fundamentally unethical journalism.
  2. Opinions matter, and the place of opinions in journalism is being reassessed on many fronts.
  3. Decisions about using Twitter should be guided by good journalism ethics, not by special rules or practices for Twitter.


I Tweet Therefore I Am, But Am I Getting Paid For It?

24 Jan

DENVER POST REPORTER Michael Booth wrote a comment on a recent post asking about the need and/or expectations for staffers to use social media for work when they’re off the clock. It’s an important issue, and I would like to use his comment as a jumping-off point for a discussion:

As employees both desire and feel pressure to expand their digital work and presence, through Facebook, Twitter, DPO, etc., we are fast becoming not just a 24-hour operation, but 24-hour employees. Am I working overtime when I Tweet my stories from home to make sure they get seen? Do supervisors expect us to be at our desk filing breaking news 9 hours a day, and then available to do the same for 12 more hours at home?

And as we expand sources of revenue, what are the rights and responsibilities associated with things like e-books and other projets? Will employees share in the new revenue? Are they expected to work on those projects on their own time, or on company time? Do employees have the right to use material generated during work hours to seek personal opportunities in e-books or other formats, if the company is not interested in producing those themselves?

This is something the Guild is planning to address during bargaining.

In the meantime, let’s get a discussion going. Do you “work Tweet” when you’re off the clock? Do you feel pressure to do so? Or is social media so integrated into your life that there’s no real distinction between your work and personal use of Twitter and Facebook, and that’s fine by you?

Sound off below by leaving a comment.

Here’s a quick collection on the topic, none of which truly address the work-life social media time continuum, but that are interesting nonetheless: