New Social Media, Blogging Guidelines For Journalists

13 Feb

One of my professors brought up the recent release of the new social media, blogging guidelines for journalists from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), turning our class discussion into a very interesting direction. We discussed how hard it was to really establish these guidelines and if you were a journalist would you beholden to the same kind of guidelines if you had personal blog etc. Then the discussion turned towards who today is actually considered a ‘real’ journalist and how do we determine who would fall under these guidelines, which turned our focus on Jon Stewart for awhile. When the question was asked if Jon Stewart was a real journalist or not  the majority of our class raised their hands. I believe this is because the majority of these students watch The Daily Show, but in a study from the Project for Excellence in Journalism it gives reasons why America has named Jon Stewart – who calls himself a comedian – as one of their top admired journalists. Our class turned the issue of social media ethics into a great diverse conversation of what people consider real journalism and how social media has affected journalism, and what is really considered journalism today in the world of new media.

RTDNA Releases Social Media, Blogging Guidelines for Journalists

Contact: Ryan Murphy, 202.495.8730,

For Immediate Release: February 3, 2010

WASHINGTON – As a supplement to its Code of Ethics – the ethical standard that  newsrooms have followed for decades – RTDNA released its new social media and blogging guidelines on Wednesday to help journalists adapt to the unique ethical situations presented in digital news.
The guidelines use the core principles of truth, fairness, accountability, and transparency.  They address image and reputation preservation as well as the decision-making processes that journalists and manager must undergo to decide what will work in their newsrooms.  The main principle of the guidelines is not to lay down a list of laws to follow, but to take journalists through questions they can ask themselves as they tread new turf on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and more.

“These guidelines will be instantly valuable in just about every newsroom across the country,” said RTDNA Chairman Stacey Woelfel.  “I can guarantee that anyone reading the new guidelines has already dealt with at least one of these issues.  Now there is a way to weigh your editorial decisions regarding social media and blogging.”

Readers of the new guidelines will find help with corrections for social media postings, ethical use of online photos and videos, anonymous postings, sponsored links, and personal social media posting, among other topics.  Each section also contains points for newsroom discussion to help make the guidelines clear and lead journalists to their own policies.

The guidelines were written by a team led by Al Tompkins, Poynter Institute Broadcast/Online Group Leader.  Also participating were RTDNA Ethics Committee Chairman Kevin Benz, RTDNA Chairman Stacey Woelfel, attorney Richard Goehler, RTDNF Director of Education Projects Carol Knopes, RTDNF Executive Director Kathleen Graham and RTDNA Digital Media Editor Ryan Murphy.

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

You can read the full guidelines by clicking here.


4 Responses to “New Social Media, Blogging Guidelines For Journalists”

  1. kaitlinflanigan February 19, 2010 at 7:00 am #

    Hey, thanks for adding me on Twitter..

    And it’s definitely interesting to contemplate the ethics (or perhaps lackthereof) of social media. Yes, journalists are perhaps better equipped to handle the ethical dilemmas that this new field of media is beginning to face, but that’s because we’re “trained”. What worries me is the fact that citizen journalists could potential wreak some havoc in this field, and just because you’re a blogger doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily beholden to ethical standards that journalists hold themselves to.

    Anyways, again, thanks for the add, and I see that you’re studying media at OSU? How’s that going? I wasn’t even aware that there was a media program at OSU. Hmm… The things you learn in a day…

    • Makenzie Marineau February 23, 2010 at 1:00 am #

      Very welcome! I know social media has thrown a whole new spin on ethics. Definitely an interesting topic of discussion.

      • Makenzie Marineau February 23, 2010 at 1:04 am #

        Yes new media at OSU is pretty new. I came here to study dietetics and took a whole new direction! It is going pretty good, I graduate in less than a year, and I am actually looking at heading to grad school at UO. Are you enjoying the program there?


  1. Freedom Of Speech & Privacy In New Media « New Media Mak - February 24, 2010

    […] my recent post about the new social media guidelines I brought up the issue of who should really be held to social […]

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