ASNE Releases Detailed Report on Newspapers’ Social Media Policies, Best Practices

The American Society of Newspaper Editors released a new report, 10 Best Practices for Social Media, which examined the social media policies of 19 news organizations — large and small, local, national, and international — to come up with a list of best practices.

The 10 key takeaways from ASNE:

1: Traditional ethics rules still apply online.

2: Assume everything you write online will become public.

3: Use social media to engage with readers, but professionally.

4: Break news on your website, not on Twitter.

5: Beware of perceptions.

6: Independently authenticate anything found on a social networking site.

7: Always identify yourself as a journalist.

8: Social networks are tools, not toys.

9: Be transparent and admit when you’re wrong online.

10: Keep internal deliberations confidential.

The entire report makes for fascinating reading, but SocialTimes selected one interesting component from each of the guideline lists put out by the 18 organizations and shared by ASNE:

Bloomberg: Social media is an excellent means of promoting our work. As such, there should be a preference for linking to stories. However, it’s good Web and social media etiquette to give credit in the form of a link to work that is interesting or valuable, regardless of the source.

The Denver Post: If you do publish something on a social media service that is incorrect, and realize it instantly, delete the Tweet or Facebook post. Issue a correction Tweet or Facebook post thereafter. Do not repeat the error. If you realize it much later, also issue a correction. Don’t try to hide the error by deleting the original message and then reissuing the news. Many Twitter clients, for example, download Tweets and store them on users’ computers or hand-held devices, so they won’t be deleted from someone’s stream even if you delete the Tweet. The same applies for Facebook.

NPR: While we strongly encourage linking to, you may not repost NPR copyrighted material to social networks without prior permission. For example, it is OK to link from your blog or Facebook profile to a story of yours on the NPR site, but you should not copy the full text or audio onto a personal site or Web page. You may accomplish this through the NPR API or widgets that NPR provides to the public under the same terms of use as apply to anyone else.

Orlando Sentinel: Be aware of perceptions. “Friending” or “following” people is fine. But if you “friend” a source or join a group on one side of a debate, you should do so with those on the other side, as well. Understand that users or sources may view your participation in a group as your acceptance of its views; be clear that you’re looking for story ideas or collecting information.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Because the social media and digital landscape is changing rapidly, it is impossible to anticipate the challenges, questions, and issues that could be posed by new tools that emerge in the future. When you face such challenges or questions, it’s always best to discuss them with your supervisor or senior newsroom leaders or, when appropriate, your colleagues before making a decision on how to handle the situation.

The Roanoke Times/ Before using photos copied or downloaded from social networking sites, be careful to verify that the photos are what you think they are. All other standards for photographs used in our publications naturally apply.

The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, and MarketWatch: Avoid giving highly tailored, specific advice to any individual on Dow Jones sites. Phrases such as, “Travel agents are saying the best deals are X and Y,” are acceptable while counseling a reader. “You should choose X,” is not. Giving generalized advice is the best approach.