October 13, 2017 Last Updated 9:17 am

NYT posts social media guidelines online for their newsroom accounts

Despite social media being such an important part of the media landscape, it is amazing how many magazine and newspaper companies have yet to put their guidelines down in writing, often leading to problems when a journalists goes a bit far in responding to bots, trolls, and upset readers

The fact that social media has been a thing for a number of years now would lead you to assume that every newsroom in a western country would have, by now, created guidelines for staff.

Of course, that isn’t the case, as numerous incidents attest, where journalists have gotten in trouble, suspended, or fired, because they said something online via Twitter or Facebook that they wouldn’t think of writing for their publications.

The New York Times today released their own guidelines and put them in the Reader Center for all to read.

Executive Editor Dean Baquet’s memo reads like it was written for the public more than for staff.

“The New York Times has been a dominant force on social media for years. Our newsroom accounts have tens of millions of followers. Many of our journalists are influential voices on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms. The voices of our readers, listeners and viewers inform and improve our reporting,”Baquet says, in a tone right out of PR101.

To create the actual guidelines, the NYT consulted with their own reporters including Yamiche Alcindor, Peter Baker, Rukmini Callimachi, Nick Confessore, Max Fisher, Maggie Haberman, Katie Rogers and Margot Sanger-Katz.

While most of the names on the list use social media as a way to promote their stories, or to respond to other journalists, Callimachi uses Twitter as a sort of instant journalism tool. She often gives her impressions of events such as a terrorist attack in Europe, or as a way to talk about something she has reported, but with a slightly different angle. Sometimes her tweet threads go array a bit, such as when she seemed to give more credence to the idea that the Las Vegas shooter might have had an ISIS connection (ISIS claimed it several times), but her account is definitely one to follow for in-depth reporting.

Callimachi is quoted in the guidelines not about this aspect of her Twitter usage, but in response to the constant problem of abuse from bots and trolls.

“I used to get really upset and respond to abuse — which only made it worse. What I finally discovered is that if I just aggressively block the abusive people, I can control the flow — and that’s, I think, because people who speak that way to women are generally followed by other people who think it’s O.K. to use crass words,” Callimachi writes. “By blocking anyone and everyone who uses abusive terms, I am able to halt the conversation. I think this is especially important as a strategy for women, at a time when people think that rape memes are a good way to respond to a story they don’t like by a female New York Times writer.”

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