Troubling Social Media Trend

by Roger Pynn

As one who counts a number of journalists among his friends, I’m troubled by how many of my journalist Facebook “friends” or those whom I follow / am followed by on Twitter seem to have their personal and professional lives intertwined online.

And it makes me wonder if there’s a trend toward media management directing them to use their social media persona to promote both news and opinion.

Even more troubling is that some news reporters are finding this an open door to expressing their personal opinions on issues … in some cases even drawing new conclusions from articles they are re-tweeting, then making bold political statements that ought to be reserved for columnists or the editorial pages.

A reporter’s tweet the other day used a pejorative I thought very inappropriate, but when tweeting we all look to condense (or even let Twitter tools condense for us). Perhaps to some the term “perv” is no more derogatory or disparaging than “pervert,” but I think most people add a little tone of disdain to the shorter version.

What do you think? Should a reporter establish separate social media accounts for personal and professional communication? Should social media policies require that? Should those polices establish that when re-tweeting or posting items that reporters should refrain from expressing opinions?

The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) just posted “10 Best Practices for Social Media.”  It includes social media policies of some of the world’s leading news organizations, including those of our hometown Orlando Sentinel.  I hope my reporter friends there refer to it often.

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