Reuters Doesn’t Want Its Reporters Breaking News on Twitter

Service releases new set of social media guidelines for staff

Reuters published an updated set of social media guidelines for its staffers this week. In them, the news and wire service detailed what it expects from its journalists who operate Twitter accounts that are straddling the increasingly muddy line between personal and professional.

The entire set of guidelines – which you can read here — give a fascinating glimpse into a major media company — like plenty of others — struggling with how to police the social part of social media. A must read, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Here are some of the key highlights:

>> The advent of social media does not change your relationship with the company that employs you — do not use social media to embarrass or disparage Thomson Reuters. Our company’s brands are important; so, too, is your personal brand. Think carefully about how what you do reflects upon you as a professional and upon us as an employer of professionals.”

>> The distinction between the private and the professional has largely broken down online and you should assume that your professional and personal social media activity will be treated as one no matter how hard you try to keep them separate. You should also be aware that even if you make use of privacy settings, anything you post on a social media site may be made public.

While it is not practical to always apply the ‘second pair of eyes rule’ for journalists using social media, especially Twitter, in a professional capacity, you should consider that a ‘virtual second pair of eyes rule’ applies under which your manager and/or senior editors will retrospectively review your professional output.

 Resist the temptation to respond in anger to those you regard as mistaken or ill-tempered

>> Think about how you’d feel if your content was cited on the front page of a leading newspaper or website or blog as Reuters comment on an issue

 Don’t suspend your critical faculties. It’s simple to share a link on Twitter, Facebook and other networks but as a Reuters journalist if you repeat something that turns out to be a hoax, or suggests you support a particular line of argument, then you risk undermining your own credibility and that of Reuters News

 Your Facebook profile, Twitter stream or personal blog give clues to your political and other affiliations and you should take care about what you reveal. A determined critic can soon build up a picture of your preferences by analysing your links, those that you follow, your ‘friends’, blogroll and endless other indicators.

[W]e’re expecting you to apply standards to your professional use of social media that will probably differ to those you would use for your personal activity. For this reason we recommend that you set up separate profiles for your professional and private activity.

 When using Twitter or social media in a professional capacity you should aim to be personable but not to include irrelevant material about your personal life.

 If a correction is required, a new tweet that begins “CORRECTION:…” should be published.

>> Can I break news via Twitter? As with blogging within Reuters News, you should make sure that if you have hard news content that it is broken first via the wire. Don’t scoop the wire. NB this does not apply if you are ‘retweeting’ (re-publishing) someone else’s scoop.

More to read:

News Media Struggle Over New Rules for Twitter

L.A. Times Updates Social Media Rules

ESPN Cracks Down on Employees’ Social Networking