10 Best Practices for Social Media

Social media platforms continue to emerge as essential newsgathering tools. They offer exciting opportunities for reporters to collect information and for news organizations to expand their reach. But they also carry challenges and risks. Enforcing Draconian rules hampers creativity and discourages the spirit of openness that flourishes on social networks. But allowing an uncontrolled free-for-all opens the floodgates to potential problems and leaves news organizations vulnerable for the comments of employees who tweet before they think.

What's an editor to do?

There is no single right answer, but ASNE has made it easier for members who are grappling with these sticky issues by reviewing the social media rules of leading mainstream news organizations and identifying the best-practice themes at the heart of the best policies.

Organized by the 2010-11 Ethics and Values Committee and written by Politico's James Hohmann, "10 Best Practices for Social Media" is designed as a framework to help editors form their own policies. In addition to brief explanations about why each theme is included, the white paper includes "teachable moments" illustrating the lurking dangers for journalists who get it wrong. The paper also includes an appendix compiling the full text of the social media policies that were collected, ranging from the Roanoke Times' 1500-word guide to one editor's simple admonishment: "Don't be stupid."

View the 10 Best Practices for Social Media (PDF)

Spanish Language Version

Guillermo Franco, consultant, writer, teacher and former managing editor for new media content for El Tiempo and editor-in-chief for ElTiempo.com, translated the guide into Spanish and wrote an introduction to the Spanish-language version of the guide. The Spanish language version was also published as an e-book by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

View the Spanish language version of the 10 Best Practices for Social Media (PDF)