Internet | October 13, 2017 12:36 pm

New York Times Revamps Social Media Guidelines for Reporters

The new guidelines prohibit reporters from expressing partisan opinions or promoting political views.

dean baquet
The New York Times building in New York. (Wikipedia Commons)

The New York Times has updated and expanded their social media guidelines, according to a letter posted by Executive Editor Dean Baquet.

In the letter, Baquet says that “social media plays a vital role in (The Times) journalism.” It allows for new storytelling methods and new audiences, and it also let’s readers witness and contribute to the reporting. However, the post also says that social media “presents potential risks for The Times” because of perceived biases.

Any violations of these new guidelines will be noted on performance reviews, The Times memo says. The guidelines, which apply to all departments, were developed with extensive feedback across the newsroom and included input from several reporters.

So what are the main points?

Times journalists cannot express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates, make offensive comments, or “do anything else that undercuts The Times’s journalistic reputation.” This goes for all social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

The memo also tells reporters to avoid joining any private or “secret” groups on Facebook that have partisan orientation. It also says to always treat people with respect on social, even if they are criticizing your work, and be transparent.

The Times memo says to be wary of sharing anything from another source that The Times has not confirmed as true. It also says to share from a variety of sources.

The memo also has a section titled, “If you’re still unsure about what you’re posting,” that gives five questions reporters can ask themselves if they are unsure whether or not a social media post conforms to the new Times’ standards. The questions include, “If readers see your post and notice that you’re a Times journalist, would that affect their view of The Times’s news coverage as fair and impartial?” and “Could your post hamper your colleagues’ ability to effectively do their jobs?”

Finally, The Times memo writes that they want their newsroom to embrace social media and use it to connect with readers, listeners and viewers, as well as sources, and extend the reach of The Times. The memo ends by saying that they welcome feedback, and are aware that these guidelines will continue to evolve as social media does.

You can see all the guidelines for The New York Times here.