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REPORTINGFROMTHEINTERNETANDUSINGSOCIALMEDIA

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Home>SpecialisedGuidance>ReportingfromtheInternetandSocialMedia

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ReportingfromtheinternetWearecommittedtoaggressivejournalisminallitsforms,includinginthefieldof
computerassistedreporting,butwedrawthelineatillegalbehaviour.Internetreportingisnothingmorethan
applyingtheprinciplesofsoundjournalismtothesometimesunusualsituationsthrownupinthevirtualworld.
Thesamestandardsofsourcing,identificationandverificationapply.Applythesameprecautionsonlinethat
youwoulduseinotherformsofnewsgatheringanddonotuseanythingfromtheInternetthatisnotsourcedin
suchawaythatyoucanverifywhereitcamefrom.
C ON TEN TS
1Nofalsehoods
2Knowyoursubject
3Attribution

[hide]

Wewelcomeyour

4Fairness
5IsItAHoax?

commentsand
suggestions.

6UsingSocialMedia
7SocialMedia:BasicPrinciples

Shareyourthoughts
N ofa ls e hoods
Reportersmustnevermisrepresentthemselves,includinginchatroomsandotheronlinediscussionforums.
Theydonot"picklocks"inpursuitofinformation,nordotheyotherwiseobtaininformationillegally.
Discoveringinformationpubliclyavailableonthewebisfairgame.Defeatingpasswordsorothersecurity
methodsisgoingtoofar.
K nowy our s ubje c t
ReportersshoulduseaggressiveInternetreportingtechniquesonlywhentheyarefamiliarwiththewayan
organisationreleasesnews.Familiaritywithanorganisation'spastdisclosureprocedurescaninsulateus
fromalltoocommonInternetspoofs.Pleasecapture,saveandprintacopyofascreenshot"ofthewebpage
inquestioninordertodefendusagainstchargesofprintingnonexistentinformation.Ifyoudonotknowhow
tocaptureascreenshot,askanyonewithatechnicalbenttoshowyouhow.Itisourbestprotectionagainst
vanishingwebsites.Bewaryof"unusual"newsiscoveredonawebsite.Donottreatthisas"normalnews"
untilthecompanyororganisationconfirmsitoratleasthasachancetorespondtowhatyouhavefound.
Escalatesuchsituationstoyourmanager.Alsokeepinmindwhatweconsidernewsworthy.Personal
informationmustberelevanttoalegitimatestoryforReuterstopublishit.Copyrightlaws,andlibellaws,
applytotheInternettoo.
A ttr ibution
Headlinesshouldbeveryclearwhenwehaveobtainedinformationinunorthodoxsettings.Instories,wealso
mustmakeitclearhighuphowwegatheredtheinformation.Retainthosefactshighinthestoryasitplays
out.Thereaderwantstoknowhowweobtainedtheinformation.
Fa ir ne s s
Theactofseekingconfirmationofthenewsbeforepublishingitcanleadtheorganisationtofrontrunour
storyandannouncetheinformationbeforewehaveachancetoputourstoryout.Thisdoesnotrelieveusof
theresponsibilitytogiveanorganisationafairchancetocomment.Pleasemakeitcleariftheorganisationis
unwillingtoconfirmtheinformation.
Is ItA H oa x ?
Doarealitycheck.Doesthisinformationfitwithintheboundsofwhatwasexpected?Anywilddivergences
areaclueyoumaybeviewinginformationinthewrongcontext.

U s ingSoc ia lMe dia

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ReportingFromtheInternetAndUsingSocialMediaHandbookofJournalism
Wewanttoencourageyoutousesocialmediaapproachesinyourjournalismbutwealsoneedtomakesure
thatyouarefullyawareoftherisksespeciallythosethatthreatenourhardearnedreputationfor
independenceandfreedomfrombiasorourbrand.Therecommendationsbelowoffergeneralguidancewith
moredetailedsuggestionsformanagingyourresenceonthemostpopularsocialnetworks.Thisisafast
changingworldandyouwillneedtoexercisejudgmentinmanyareas.Inframingthisadvicewe'vebornein
mindthefollowingprinciplesandencourageyoutothinkaboutthemwheneverusingsocialmedia.
Soc ia lMe dia :B a s ic Pr inc iple s
Socialnetworkshavebeenagreatboonforthepracticeofjournalism,onstorieslargeandsmall,and
Reutersjournalismhasbeenthebetterforthem.Notonlyhavetheyservedasaconduitforprimaryand
crowdsourcedinformation,theyhavealsogivenusnewwaystoreport
findingstoriesandtipsterson
Twitter,usingLinkedIntolocatesources,miningFacebookgroupsforanglesandinsights,andsoon.
Socialnetworksalsoraiseimportantquestionsforus,especiallywhenweareusingthemtotransmitrather
thanreceive.Theissuesaroundwhatwecanandcannotsaythereareasubjectofconstantconversation
amongus,soasthisisnotourfirstwordonthesubject,itwillnotbethelast.Theonlineworldisasfullof
pitfallsasitwaswhentheHandbookwasissued,buttheissuesaremorefamiliarnow,soitmakessenseto
simplifytheguidelines.
Ourwishisforpeopletobenefitsafelyfromsocialnetworks,nottomuzzleanyone.Journalistsarepeopletoo,
withalltherightsofcitizens.Ifwewanttotweetorpostaboutaschoolplay,afilmorafavoriterecipe,weare
freetodoso.Whendealingwithmattersofpublicimportanceandactualorpotentialsubjectsofcoverage,
however,Reutersjournalistsshouldbemindfuloftheimpacttheirpubliclyexpressedopinionscanhaveon
theirworkandonReuters.InourTwitterandFacebookprofiles,forexample,weshouldidentifyourselvesas
Reutersjournalistsanddeclarethatwespeakforourselves,notforThomsonReuters.
WhenwritingasReutersjournalists,whetherforthefileoronline,weareguided24hoursadaybytheethics
ofourorganizationasembodiedintheCodeofConductandtheTrustPrinciples,whichrequireustobe
responsible,fairandimpartial.Ontheonehand,thesestandardscanbecompromisedwheneverwelikea
postoradoptabadgeorjoinacause,particularlywhenthesubjectisrelevantoreventangentialtoour
beat.Ontheotherhand,itmightbenecessarytolike,joinoradoptabadgetogetthenews.Itshouldgo
withoutsayingthatnoonemaycompelorpressureanyonetofriendthemonFacebook,followthemon
Twitterorengageinsimilarconductonothersocialmedia.OneofthedistinguishingfeaturesofReutersisthe
trustinvestedinthejudgmentofitsjournalistsandwewillcontinuetolooktoourjournaliststousetheir
commonsenseindealingwiththesenewchallenges.
Weexpectourjournaliststoreachconclusionsthroughreporting,buttheymustalsodemonstratethe
intellectualdisciplinetokeeptheirconclusionssusceptibletofurtherreporting,whichrequiresapostureof
openmindednessandenlightenedskepticism.Thisisdifficulttodemonstrateinthesocialnetworksshort
formsandunderthepressureofthinkingwritingpostinginrealtime.Butmaintainingthispostureiscriticalto
ourcredibilityandreputationasjournalists.Whenindoubtaboutapost,tweetorotheractiononsocial
networks,wemustenlistasecondpairofeyes,evenatthecostofsomedelay.
OnmattersdealingwithThomsonReuters,wemustobserveourexistingobligationsofconfidentialityandthe
obviousboundariesofdiscretionforexample,refrainingfromthedisclosureofinsideinformation,
confidentialpersonnelmatters,sensitiveinformationfrominternalmeetings(allofwhicharetobeconsidered
offtherecord).Butnothinginthisparagraphorinthispolicyshouldbeinterpretedasinhibitingthe
exchangeofideasaboutmattersthatdealwithourcommonwelfare.Noristhereanyprohibitiononusing
socialmediaforspeechprotectedbytheNationalLaborRelationsAct,suchascandidlydiscussingwages,
hoursandworkingconditions.
Thetensionisclear:Socialnetworksencouragefast,constant,briefcommunicationsjournalismcallsfor
communicationprecededbyfactfindingandthoughtfulconsideration.Journalismhasmanyunsend
buttons,includingeditors.Socialnetworkshavenone.Everythingwesayonlinecanbeusedagainstusina
courtoflaw,inthemindsofsubjectsandsourcesandbypeoplewhoforreasonsoftheirownmaywantto
castusinanegativelight.While,obviously,wecannotcontrolwhatothersmaypostonouraccounts,wemust
maintainconstantawarenesswhenpostingtoFacebook,Twitterandotheronlineforathatweareflying
withoutanet,andthatanindiscretionlastsforever.Atallcosts,wemustavoidflamewars,incendiaryrhetoric
andloosetalk.Weshouldalsorememberthatbyfriendingorfollowingsomeone,wemaybegivingoutthe
identityofasource.Everythingdependsonourkeepingtrust.
Inotherwords,becareful.Byallmeans,explorewaysinwhichsocialmediacanhelpyoudoyourjob.But
beforeyoutweetorpost,considerhowwhatyouredoingwillreflectonyourprofessionalismandour
collectivereputation.Whenindoubt,talktocolleagues,youreditororyoursupervisor.
Category:SpecialisedGuidance
Thispagewaslastmodified15:36,27February2013.

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