All My Little Words

NYT Journos Told: Mind Your Twitters

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on January 23, 2009

As advertising revenues plummet and publishers slash and burn newsroom jobs, one would think newspaper journalists would have quite enough in the way of angst-inducements. The social media age, however, seems to be providing a whole new kind of consternation:

“If you have or are getting a Facebook page, leave blank the section that asks about your political views, in accordance with the Ethical Journalism admonition to do nothing that might cast doubt on your or The Times’s political impartiality in reporting the news.

Be careful not to write anything on a blog or a personal Web page that you could not write in The Times –­ don’t editorialize, for instance, if you work for the News Department. Anything you post online can and might be publicly disseminated, and can be twisted to be used against you by those who wish you or The Times ill…”

As impossible as it is to achieve, and as I have said before, neutrality is a noble goal to which all news journalists should aspire and to which few, especially in Britain, even come close. News should be colourless and new reporters should endeavour to avoid adding even the gentlest editorial hue, whether that’s within their reports or without them. The New York Times is clearly committed to this task and should be applauded for its (largely) independent and apolitical news reporting.

But is company-wide Twitter Censorship the way to go? Would the Times not be better served, if it really wants to paint itself as the purest of the pure, to rid itself of individual bylines altogether? Or would that be too much of a blow to individual egos? How else would they get laid?

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