Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » How should journalists handle social media?


Advocates of social media are all a-twitter over the Washington Post's newly published policy.

The Post's critics contend the policy focuses too much on what journalists shouldn't do rather than encourage them to engage in social media.

The policy starts off fine, in my opinion: "Social networks are communications media, and a part of our everyday lives. They can be valuable tools in gathering and disseminating news and information. They also create some potential hazards we need to recognize. When using social networking tools for reporting or for our personal lives, we must remember that Washington Post journalists are always Washington Post journalists."

Critics say the rest of the policy is so restrictive many Post journalists will opt out of using social media at a time when it's more important than ever that they connect with their audience. The flap prompted me to send a reminder to the Advocate staff about our simple guideline:

"Keep in mind you represent the newspaper when using social media. Don't post anything there you wouldn't say in any other public setting. We encourage you to interact with the public as often as possible and show them we're regular people who care about our neighbors and our community.

"I haven't noticed anyone having trouble with the Advocate policy. I try to keep up with what people are posting, and I'd let you know if I saw something that crossed the line. This is a new world, though, so please ask if you have questions. We're all treading new ground with social media."

I'm not joining the ranks of those criticizing the Post's policy, however. Company policies tend to be written for lawyers, but so what? The social media gurus' obsession with Twitter, Facebook and the like feels over the top -- and this from a guy who is online far too much.