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  • clarehiler 11:57 pm on April 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ethics, RTDNA,   

    We have been researching social media ethics a lot lately, and talking about it on this blog. While we’ve been on the subject, we thought it was a good time to post some social media guidelines. Here are some from RTDNA. Comment if you have another source of guidelines.

    Social Media and Blogging Guidelines
    Social media and blogs are important elements of journalism. They narrow the distance between journalists and the public. They encourage lively, immediate and spirited discussion. They can be vital news-gathering and news-delivery tools. As a journalist you should uphold the same professional and ethical standards of fairness, accuracy, truthfulness, transparency and independence when using social media as you do on air and on all digital news platforms.

    Truth and Fairness

    • Social media comments and postings should meet the same standards of fairness, accuracy and attribution that you apply to your on-air or digital platforms.

    •Information gleaned online should be confirmed just as you must confirm scanner traffic or phone tips before reporting them. If you cannot independently confirm critical information, reveal your sources; tell the public how you know what you know and what you cannot confirm. Don’t stop there. Keep seeking confirmation. This guideline is the same for covering breaking news on station websites as on the air. You should not leave the public “hanging.” Lead the public to completeness and understanding.

    • Twitter’s character limits and immediacy are not excuses for inaccuracy and unfairness.

    •Remember that social media postings live on as online archives. Correct and clarify mistakes, whether they are factual mistakes or mistakes of omission.

    •When using content from blogs or social media, ask critical questions such as:

    • What is the source of the video or photograph? Who wrote the comment and what was the motivation for posting it.
    • Does the source have the legal right to the material posted? Did that person take the photograph or capture the video?
    • Has the photograph or video been manipulated? Have we checked to see if the metadata attached to the image reveals that it has been altered?

    • Social networks typically offer a “privacy” setting, so users can choose not to have their photographs or thoughts in front of the uninvited public. Capturing material from a public Facebook site is different from prying behind a password-protected wall posing as a friend. When considering whether to access “private” content, journalists should apply the same RTDNA guidelines recommended for undercover journalism. Ask:

    • Does the poster have a ‘reasonable expectation’ of privacy?
    • Is this a story of great significance?
    • Is there any other way to get the information?
    • Are you willing to disclose your methods and reasoning?
    • What are your journalistic motivations?

    For Discussion in your Newsroom:
    1. When an Army psychiatrist killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Twitter messages, supposedly from “inside the post” reported gunfire continued for a half hour and that there were multiple shooters. Journalists passed along the information naming Twitter writers as the sources. The information proved to be false and needed to be corrected. If one or multiple shooters had been at large, withholding that information could have caused some people to be in harm’s way. The nature of live, breaking news frequently leads to reports of rumor, hearsay and other inaccurate information. Journalists must source information, correct mistakes quickly and prominently and remind the public that the information is fluid and could be unreliable.

    Questions for the Newsroom:

    • What protocols does your newsroom have to correct mistakes on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook?
    • Does your newsroom have a process for copyediting and oversight of the content posted on social media sites? What decision-making process do you go through before you post?
    • What protocols do you have for checking the truthfulness of photographs or video that you find on Facebook, YouTube or photo-sharing sites? Have you contacted the photographer? Can you see the unedited video or raw photograph file? Does the image or video make sense when compared to the facts of the story?
    • Who in the newsroom is charged with confirming information gleaned from social media sites?

    Accountability and Transparency

    • You should not write anonymously or use an avatar or username that cloaks your real identity on newsroom or personal websites. You are responsible for everything you say. Commenting or blogging anonymously compromises this core principle.

    • Be especially careful when you are writing, Tweeting or blogging about a topic that you or your newsroom covers. Editorializing about a topic or person can reveal your personal feelings. Biased comments could be used in a court of law to demonstrate a predisposition, or even malicious intent, in a libel action against the news organization, even for an unrelated story.

    • Just as you keep distance between your station’s advertising and journalism divisions, you should not use social media to promote business or personal interests without disclosing that relationship to the public. Sponsored links should be clearly labeled, not cloaked as journalistic content.

    For Discussion in your Newsroom:
    1. Your consumer reporter at a major electronics show wants to give a glowing blog review of a new digital camera. When the company makes the splashy announcement, the reporter Tweets the news. The message virals fast and wide. Your station will be running ads for the camera as part of the company’s national advertising campaign. How will you tell the public that you have a business relationship with the camera company?

    2. Your political reporter has been covering the challenger in the mayor’s race. On his personal Facebook page, your reporter says, “I am covering another candidate who is dumber than dirt.” The candidate’s press secretary calls to demand that the political reporter be “taken off the campaign.” Your reporter’s defense: “What I say on my own time on my own website is my business. Plus I didn’t name names.”

    How will you respond? What should you tell the public about the complaint and your decision?

    Image and Reputation

    • Remember that what’s posted online is open to the public (even if you consider it to be private). Personal and professional lives merge online. Newsroom employees should recognize that even though their comments may seem to be in their “private space,” their words become direct extensions of their news organizations. Search engines and social mapping sites can locate their posts and link the writers’ names to their employers.

    • There are journalistic reasons to connect with people online, even if you cover them, but consider whom you “friend” on sites like Facebook or “follow” on Twitter. You may believe that online “friends” are different from other friends in your life, but the public may not always see it that way. For example, be prepared to publicly explain why you show up as a “friend” on a politician’s website. Inspect your “friends” list regularly to look for conflicts with those who become newsmakers.

    • Be especially careful when registering for social network sites. Pay attention to how the public may interpret Facebook information that describes your relationship status, age, sexual preference and political or religious views. These descriptors can hold loaded meanings and affect viewer perception.

    • Keep in mind that when you join an online group, the public may perceive that you support that group. Be prepared to justify your membership.

    • Avoid posting photos or any other content on any website, blog, social network or video/photo sharing website that might embarrass you or undermine your journalistic credibility. Keep this in mind, even if you are posting on what you believe to be a “private” or password-protected site. Consider this when allowing others to take pictures of you at social gatherings. When you work for a journalism organization, you represent that organization on and off the clock. The same standards apply for journalists who work on air or off air.

    • Bloggers and journalists who use social media often engage readers in a lively give-and-take of ideas. Never insult or disparage readers. Try to create a respectful, informed dialogue while avoiding personal attacks.

    For Discussion in your Newsroom:
    1. Edgy Facebook and Twitter postings create more traffic, so you urge your newsroom to get online and be provocative to get more attention. How will you respond when your anchor poses holding a half-empty martini glass on her Facebook site? How will you respond if your reporter’s Facebook profile picture shows a bong in the background? What would your response be if a producer, who identifies herself as “conservative” on her Facebook page, Tweets her opinions during a political rally?

    2. A news manager “friends” a neighbor he meets at a block party. A year later the neighbor decides to run for mayor. The news manager gets an indignant call from the incumbent mayor’s press secretary suggesting the station coverage will be biased, since your news manager supports the challenger. Does the news manager have to “unfriend” his neighbor to preserve the appearance of fairness? Could the manager make things right if he “friended” the mayor, too?

    RTDNF provides workshops and programs on ethics, leadership and decision-making skills and a number of other guidelines for specific journalistic challenges. In addition, RTDNA staff members and board members are always available to provide assistance upon request.

    These guidelines were developed by the RTDNA Ethics Committee and Al Tompkins, group leader for broadcasting and online, The Poynter Institute.

    The guidelines were created though RTDNF’s Journalism Ethics Project sponsored by a generous grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism.

    Read it on their site here: http://www.rtdna.org/pages/media_items/social-media-and-blogging-guidelines1915.php

  • clarehiler 3:24 pm on April 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ethics, , Transparency   

    “Transparency will see us through”

    Jen Reeves talking about social media ethics (Follow her on twitter @jenleereeves)
  • clarehiler 7:28 pm on April 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Ethics, Retweeting, ,   

    Tweet Ethics 

    Check out this blog post from Tweet Smarter about giving credit for tweets, and how to not get your account suspended from twitter.

    You can find the whole post here: http://blog.tweetsmarter.com/retweeting/the-retweet-stylebook-a-short-collection-of-standards/

    How Misunderstanding Retweets Can Get You Suspended From Twitter
    by DAVE LARSON on MARCH 28, 2011

    Retweet standards are about curator attribution. (When you’re looking at a tweet, the curator is the person who posted that tweet). Retweet standards build loosely on internet hyperlink standards, making them essentially two generations removed from old print standards (Print>Internet>Twitter). The most important thing to know is:

    ► Twitter reserves the right to suspend users for posting tweets without proper retweet attribution if done repeatedly. Here’s Twitter’s rule:

    “Post[ing] other users’ Tweets as your own” is a suspension-worthy violation of the Twitter rules.

    1. Who should get credit?

    Everyone needs to get credit—the author, the site or publication, and the person who shared the information in a tweet. But the only thing you need to ADD to a tweet turn it into a retweet is the Twitter username of the curator. It’s perfectly okay to include the Twitter username of the content author or website in a tweet or retweet, it’s just not required. Here’s how and where everyone gets credit:

    Author — Example: The byline on a blog post. This credits the author, so it’s not necessary to include author username in the tweet. Author attribution takes place at the content level, on the website.
    Content (Site/Publication) — The link in the tweet takes care of this, paralleling the hyperlink attribution standard within websites. It’s not necessary to include the site’s username in the tweet because the site has been linked to.
    Curator — Attribution takes place by the addition of retweet syntax, identifying the source curator’s Twitter username(s).
    The first job of a retweet is to credit the person who made the tweet that led you to the content—the curator. The chain of attribution is Curator > Site > Author; this ensures all sources are credited.

    2. How should users be credited in an editable retweet?

    Retweet Glossary, Syntax and Punctuation is a good overview to familiarize yourself with.

    Exact style here is not as important as maintaining the attribution chain leading to the original source. This means including all usernames when possible. The great thing about doing this is that you are making a connection with all those users by including their usernames. They will see your tweet because their username is in it.

    This isn’t always easy, or even possible. The first step is to be as brief as possible, see “Tips and benefits of being brief when retweeting.”

    Giving credit to multiple users

    When you find a tweet that is already a retweet (that is, it credits one or more Twitter usernames), if you can edit the retweet into a new retweet that includes all curator usernames and still leave 19 characters of blank space, I suggest doing so. This how the retweet developed on Twitter. If you prefer to use a retweet function that does NOT allow editing, that’s okay too. But editable retweets also allow adding comments, besides bringing attention to the source curators, and are generally preferred by more experienced Twitter users.

    Also, putting the usernames at the beginning of a reweet makes it hard to see the content portion of the tweet. I recommend for retweets with multiple usernames putting them at the end. For tweets with one username I think it’s also best at the end, but sometimes putting it at the beginning is a nice way to highlight the user.

    3. How much can I modify a retweet?

    If a tweet is edited to change its tone, viewpoint or meaning at all, it’s no longer a straight retweet. Don’t change tone or meaning of a tweet and then put it out as a plain vanilla retweet. Politicians are famous abusers of this, trying to make it look like their opposition said something they didn’t and then claiming they are “just retweeting what they said.”

    If you want to retweet and add a comment, that’s fine. Putting the language of the original tweet in quotes helps. And using a different abbreviation (see #4 below) may be called for. There are also a number of services that allow you group collections of tweets into a single URL. This can be helpful if you need to comment on a conversation, or collection of tweets. Here’s one example: http://j.mp/LearnHashtags.

    However the clearest option is often to link to the tweet itself (see section five below for how to). But starting with a regular, editable retweet and then carefully adding your own comment is often easiest.

    4. What are some common errors?

    ► Thinking that the tweeter/retweeter is the blog post author

    Don’t retweet someone and state that they are the author or thank them for a writing a post until you have confirmed who actually wrote it. Websites that don’t make the link to the site’s or author’s Twitter account very clearly visible are missing an opportunity, and creating a situation that can lead to confusion. I regularly see tweets thanking a retweeter for writing a post they didn’t write.

    ► Overlooking the community-building aspect of Twitter

    Some feel that, regardless of Twitter’s rules, the content source or author are much more important than the curator. These people overlook the value of Twitter as an information network, and denigrate the role of curator, even going so far sometimes as to remove retweet credit and replace it with site or author credit.

    Even if you don’t believe in crediting the curator (and aren’t concerned about having your account suspended), realize that you can curate connections as well as information on Twitter. Simply being generously inclusive with usernames in your tweets has the natural side effect that your tweets will be retweeted more because people will pay more attention to your tweets, and feel more generous towards you. The best part? Taking the simple steps to be inclusive with usernames begins to build a community.

    The value of a Twitter community comes in many forms, but two dramatic examples are the $11,000 tweet and raising $13,000 in 48 hours for a friend (actually nearly $17,000 was raised). And as I write this, a Twitter user has just asked for “11 cents from 1,000 people for something stupid” and with no more description than that, has raised over $300 in just a few hours.

    ► Other errors

    I’m going to add to this list, but I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences! Leave a comment and I’ll add the best ones to this blog and link to you. (Knowing myself, I don’t want this post to sit aside for weeks until I can get back to it and fill out this section on common errors.)

    5. When should I favorite a tweet instead of retweeting it?

    You can use the tweet favorite function anyway that works for you. But you should know there is a large group of users on Twitter who “vote” for each other’s tweets by favoriting them. This informal group mostly relies on humor, and their goal is to get their tweets shown on the “leaderboard.” The leaderboard is a list of the latest, most favorited tweets at sites that keep track, such as Favstar.fm and Favotter.

    However, Favstar is starting to incorporate other ways besides just “most favorites” of measuring which tweets should be highlighted each day. Nevertheless, realize that many writers of humorous tweets greatly appreciate having their tweets favorited by you

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