Yesterday, Reuters released what could be called a “reverse step” in social media policy, which instructs their journalists to avoid bias and specifically instructs them not to scoop the news wire by breaking their stories on social media sites first.
While it’s understandable that Reuters seeks to uphold the trust placed in them by their readers, the policy is moving in the wrong direction as many other online content providers strive to provide information in real-time. Indeed, the past year has seen Facebook, Google, and other online mediums provide real-time results in their search content. Additionally, search aggregators, such as LeapFish, not only provide results based on the major search engines, but access to real-time results as well, all from a single query.
The instructions make it clear that journalists are to release stories via the wire first, and then on social media outlets, including Twitter, secondarily.
The policy advises Reuters’ journalists to seek approval from their managers before using Twitter for any professional purpose, and also suggests that someone within the Reuters organization check the tweets before they’re posted so that personal bias is not disclosed. Reuters also suggests that journalists separate their personal accounts from their professional accounts.
Jennifer Bruin at Mashable states clearly what seems to be the news organization’s major concern:
“[Reuters] is torn between encouraging employees to use social media and the realization that the online behaviors of their staff put them at risk, a sentiment expressed in the comment that these tools, if misused, could ‘threaten our hard-earned reputation for independence and freedom from bias or our brand.’” Read the rest of this entry »