Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Social Media: A Murky Line in the Sand for Journalists

The Washington Post and National Public Radio (NPR), so well known for investigative journalism, have at long last issued guidelines for their journalists on using social media. Implicit in the guidelines is that for a journalist, particularly one for these hallowed institutions, participation in a social network can be hazardous to your livelihood.

NPR makes a point of encouraging its journalists to utilize the “highest level of privacy tools available to control access to your personal activity when appropriate…. It’s just not that hard for someone to hack those tools and make public what you thought was private.”

The Washington Post goes a little further, noting, “All Washington Post journalists relinquish some of the personal privileges of private citizens….What you do on social networks should be presumed to be publicly available to anyone, even if you have created a private account.”

(Certainly, these are lessons that some of our politicians might keep in mind as well! Virtually no one has a private life anymore.)

My colleague, David Rosen, perhaps put it best when he commented that “since social is the main way people associate with political groups (for many, and for the majority very soon), journalists have to give up their personal lives for their jobs. It’s like a new priesthood.”

Technorati Tags: The Washington Post , National Public Radio , social networks, journalist, Social Media, David Rosen, public relations, Makovsky

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