Washington Post lays down the Internet law

By Don Day 

A few weeks ago, I pointed you to the Time Magazine memo telling writers to buck up and start writing for the web. Now here’s another leaked memo from the print side of things – this time from the Washington Post. The major thrust of the missive is a new “10 Principles for Washington Post Journalism on the Web.” I’ve put that full list of principles “after the jump” simply because it is long — but I hope you’ll take a second and read it over. As you do, substitute “The Washington Post” for the name of your newsroom — would the statement be true?

Here is one of the most vitally important point, no matter the news site:

3. We will publish most scoops and other exclusives when they are ready, which often will be online.

Does your site publish exclusives before the newscast? If not, why not?

Ten Principles for Washington Post Journalism on the Web

1. The Washington Post is an online source of local, national and international news and information. We serve local, national and international audiences on the Web.
2. We will be prepared to publish Washington Post journalism online 24/7. Web users expect to see news as it happens. If they do not find it on our site they will go elsewhere.
3. We will publish most scoops and other exclusives when they are ready, which often will be online.
4. The originality and added value of Post journalism distinguishes us on the Web. We will emphasize enterprise, analysis, criticism and investigations in our online journalism.
5. Post journalism published online has the same value as journalism published in the newspaper. We embrace chats, blogs and multimedia presentations as contributions to our journalism.
6. Accuracy, fairness and transparency are as important online as on the printed page. Post journalism in either medium should meet those standards.
7. We recognize and support the central role of opinion, personality and reader-generated content on the Web. But reporters and editors should not express personal opinions unless they would be allowed in the newspaper, such as in criticism or columns.
8. The newsroom will respond to the rhythms of the Web as ably and responsibly as we do to the rhythms of the printed newspaper. Our deadline schedules, newsroom structures and forms of journalism will evolve to meet the possibilities of the Web.
9. Newsroom employees will receive training appropriate to their roles in producing online journalism.
10. Publishing our journalism on the Web should make us more open to change what we publish in the printed newspaper. There is no meaningful division at The Post between “old media” and “new media.”