anewguide: Final Guidelines

After months of research, and dozens of interviews with journalists and non journalists, we have created our new guide to social media. The following is our 10 guidelines for how newsrooms around the country, on all platforms, should, and should not, use social media. 

For our full presentation click here



  • Understand that your professional obligations as a journalist extend online.
  • However, at the end of the day, people do appreciate a person that can relate to in person as well as on the web.
  • Here’s what two journalists has to say about this topic:

“I don’t say anything on Twitter or Facebook that I wouldn’t say on the air.”

“At the end of the day I’m a normal human being and if there is a picture of me at a bar what’s the big deal. Normal people drink. That said, you are not going to find pictures of me doing keg stands. In my opinion, it’s about finding that happy medium and making sure you stay there.”


  • Each story can we enhanced through social media tools.
  • However, since each story is different, different tools should be used.
  • For example, in breaking news situations tweeting pictures and videos is the fastest way to get information out. However, for longer term stories, interaction through Facebook polls, Flickr and storify can better enhance a story.
  • Here are some tools we like:


  • Just as a journalist would on any platform, they need to follow through with what they promise through social media (ex. updates).

“Just like your audience members can rely on you when on the air, they should be able to rely on your tweets for information”


  • When you use social media, make sure that it encourages people to respond. You can do this by using inciting questions.
  • When people do respond, make sure you answer. This is true whether the response is negative or positive.

“I would remember the most important rule in social networking, you get what you give… News organizations need to communicate authentically, as human beings, which means replying to questions and complains, retreating and linking out to other content producer’s stories…”

“Reaching out to our viewers can open the communication from one way to ways.”


  • Social media is always changing and as journalists, we need to adapt.
  • Be willing to try new sites and projects, because you don’t want to be left behind.”

“I do location based SM with Gowalla (it’s an Austin  based company so I prefer it to FourSquare). I also have a Tumblr page for my Instagram photos, and YouTube and Vimeo channels.”


  • The same standards journalists have in a newsroom, apply online too.
  • Newsrooms should have policies in place regarding:
    • Retracting tweets
    • Deleting tweets
    • Only tweeting what you know
    • Remember it’s better to be third than wrong.


  • You audience likes to know how you got your information, and what you did to get it.
  • Give them a behind the scenes view of your story, in the end this will give them a closer relationship to you.
  • In breaking news situations this is especially true.

“As soon as I get assigned a story, I tweet where I am going. As the story develops, I will tweet and post updates to the 8 News Now Fan Page. I try to post any pictures and videos as possible.”


  • If you viewers have a problem with how you are using social media, or if they have newsworthy information, it’s important to listen.
  • Social media is a 2 way conversation.

“As soon as I get to work to let people know I am active online if they need to tell me anything.”


  • People don’t appreciate when organizations over flood their feeds. Social media is a tool that allows people to filter what they want to consume, so if you waste their time, it is easy to unfollow your organization.
  • When asked what makes you “follow” or “like” something, this non journalist answered…

“I’m not. I’m a fan of maybe two things on Facebook because the updates and announcements are annoying. I like to decide when I read my news, not be bombarded with it.”

“For me, Twitter is a no-nonsense medium. I want to make each tweet something of value, news value usually, for my followers. Facebook is more of me trying to shape my online identity. It’s the homepage I was always going to create and never did.”


  • Understand that people are active on different platforms during different times of the day.
    • Blogging is most active in the morning.
    • Facebook is most active during off work hours.
    • Twitter is unique, but you can use the tool Tweroid to determine when your followers are on.


            “Were I to do it again, I’d push both mediums simultaneously [Facebook and Twitter]. We were late to the Facebook game. I’d recommend that newsrooms start hammering on both mediums at once. Cross promotion helps, we’ve found.”

– Ed Forbes, The Journal News (@edforbes)

“New stations, I would recomend any one in my industry to get online as soon as possible. Sit back and follow people to see what they like or don’t like if you’re not comfortable on the platform. Don’t watch too long, you’ll want to start interacting as soon as you can. Also, ask for help or advice from viewers followers. People in the Twitter world love teaching you how to be great.”


  • Create lists of your followers and sources.
  • Follow everyone that follows you.
  • Do not overwhelm your followers.
  • Incorporate it into your broadcasts
    • Mention you Facebook on your morning show.