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NUJ - social media, advisory guidelines for journalists

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:49 am    Post subject: NUJ - social media, advisory guidelines for journalists Reply with quote

Social networking – advisory guidelines for journalists
The NUJ’s New Media Industrial Council (NMIC) has produced a set of guidelines on the use of social media specifically aimed at journalists, who are increasingly facing problems with employers as a result of their use of popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The guidelines should not be considered authoritative in any way, and they do not have any legal force whatsoever, but they may give you some idea of the complications that might arise from ill-considered use of social media and some help in avoiding any pitfalls that could lead to disciplinary action or worse.

You are encouraged to distribute the guidelines to your colleagues.

Download and read the guidelines here.

More information: the NUJ’s New Media Industrial Council (NMIC) website at http://www.nujnewmedia.org.uk/index.html

Social networking – advisory guidance for journalists

As a journalist, your use of social networking sites can impact on your future work or employment. What you write, or when you write it, can cause employers concern. What you say could be interpreted as the company’s point of view, and the company make seek to distance itself from such remarks by taking disciplinary action against you. It may query when you access such accounts, and allege that you are breaching company email and internet usage policies.

No matter how few people you think read your Twitter feed, or view your Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn accounts, never believe you are talking to yourself or just your friends when you post online. Consider what you write and how you write it. It is likely that your posts will remain online for some time, so you need to think carefully about what you are publishing.

To help avoid some of the pitfalls, the following is a list of pointers when using social networking sites. This list is by no means exhaustive, nor does it contain advice which has any legal force. It cannot be relied on in a court of law. It should, however, go some way in helping you maintain a good balance between your public and private lives and your right to personal expression.

• Make clear on all personal accounts that you are speaking for yourself. Write in the first person and include a disclaimer along the following lines: “The views expressed on the site are my own and do not reflect those of any organisation.”
• Don’t mention on any personal profiles the name of your employer. Be aware that if you use the name of your company in your username you will automatically be associating that account with your employer.
• Use personal email addresses to manage any personal profiles. Do not use company email addresses to register or manage any personal accounts and do not update personal accounts from a company IP address.
• Make your personal profiles private and only viewable to friends and only “friend” people you know and trust personally.
• Be aware that you are personally responsible for content you publish on social media sites, so show respect for others; avoid personal slurs; consider other people’s privacy and do not use social media sites to access or share illegal content. Never disclose commercially-sensitive, confidential or privacy-marked company information in your contributions. If you feel even slightly uneasy about what you are about to publish, the chances are you shouldn’t do it.
• Consider running a separate “business only” or “professional” account for your journalistic profile and work. Run this profile as suggested for any personal profiles, with a disclaimer, and give consideration to whom you might “friend” with such a profile, because the company may be concerned about crossover with any contacts you both have.
• Administer any work-related pages, campaigns, petitions or groups from your “business only” account and be aware that they could be construed as being the property of the company. Do not take personal ownership of any such accounts. You may be best asking permission before you establish such pages/profiles. Be prepared to give the company access to them should it be requested, or should you leave the business. Also be prepared to close them down if requested to do so by the company.
• Do not breach the company’s email and internet usage policies. These should be written in your contract or provided in the company handbook or on company intranet pages – make sure you read them.
• If working remotely, be aware that public WiFi networks may not be secure. If you log into these networks information on your device may be accessible to others.
• Be aware that the lists of friends or followers you acquire on work-related accounts may be considered the property of the company. It is wise to obtain an agreement with your employer concerning the status of such lists and whether or not you would be allowed any rights to them.
• Remember that images and other material on social network sites are copyright by default. Publication on a social network site does not equal public domain, and using someone’s pictures or other material without permission is probably an infringement of copyright.

You are free to quote, copy and redistribute the above Advisory Guidance for Journalists, but please acknowledge the source (the NUJ New Media Industrial Council [NMIC]) and do not remove or alter this notice. Version 1, September 2012

A summary of the main points of the BBC’s policy on ‘Social Networking, Microblogs and other Third Party Websites: Personal Use’:

• The personal use of the internet by BBC staff must be tempered by an awareness of the potential conflicts that may arise.
• There should be a clear division between "BBC" pages and "personal" pages.
• On Social Networking sites, you should be mindful that the information you disclose does not bring the BBC into disrepute.
• For example, editorial staff should not indicate their political allegiance. Non-editorial staff should make their role clear if they wish to engage in political activity.
• It may not be appropriate to share BBC-related photographs, comments and videos. Offensive comment about BBC colleagues may be deemed a disciplinary offence.
• BBC staff are free to edit online encyclopaedias (such as Wikipedia) but should be transparent about doing so. You may respond to legitimate criticism of the BBC but not remove it.
• Blogs, microblogs and other personal websites which do not identify the author as a BBC employee, do not discuss the BBC and are purely personal would fall outside this guidance.
• New and existing blogs, microblogs and other personal websites which do identify the author as a BBC employee should be discussed with your line manager to ensure that due impartiality and confidentiality is maintained.

(Source: The BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines/page/guidance-blog s-personal-summary)

Further reading:
• BBC Guidance on Social Networking. Microblogs and other Third Party Websites (full document) http://www.bbc.co.uk/editorialguidelines/page/guidance-blogs-bbc-full
• Social Media Governance Policy Database, by Chris Boudreaux (links to policies published by many companies across the world) http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php
• Journalism.co.uk item on Associated Press’s guidelines for use of social networks http://www.journalism.co.uk/news/associated-press-updates-social-media -guidelines/s2/a549943/

From: NUJ New Media Industrial Council (NMIC), September 2012.

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