Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Professional and Personal

Tori Knueven

Social Media has become a really important tool for journalists. It is the new medium for us to conquer. While a lot of journalists use websites to contact sources and also advertise their stories, there are also limits that some journalists do not understand. The use of such social media outlets are now of the utmost importance in a journalist's career. Not only are they expected to be on sites, they are expected to use them for the jobs. The use of social media is growing in the workplace. The question that journalists are continually trying to answer is, where is the line between professional and personal?

A Tool

Not only do people use social media, but also it is expected of them to use Twitter and Facebook to talk about upcoming articles. I have personally used Twitter to get in contact with sources and also to tweet about my articles. I also use Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with current events because I know that The New York Times and Associated Press often tweet their stories and breaking news. The importance of social media has grown, as shown in this article about the Olympics. 

The success of a paper or network depends on their presence on the Internet. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that every single employee has an account and uses it throughout the day. The irony for most young people is that use of social media is often discouraged during class time. Now, during the workday it is a part of the job to be constantly checking Twitter.

The Double Standard

While social media can be helpful for journalists, it can also feel like a trap. It is impossible to express an opinion to the public while maintaining an impartial view. Most people have therefore relied on two different profiles. One is for the public and the other is for friends and family. Even with these separate entities, people can still get in trouble. The problem for journalists is that their job often follows them home. Most reporters have strong privacy settings on their accounts so that they can publish their opinions without risking credibility.

Here is an opinion piece from The New York Times about their policy of social media. This happened after one of the freelance writers had an outburst over Twitter about an interview. Outbursts like these risk the credibility of a journalist and also often terminate jobs. Here is a piece of advice that seems very helpful in awkward situations: If there is any doubt about the appropriateness of a status or tweet, do not publish it.

The Future

Right now, social media is a tool and a nuisance. Networks are still trying to figure out a way to use this to their advantage but also to hold people accountable for their actions. Most corporations have at least started with some general rules, but these are not specific enough to hold people accountable. As knowledge grows, so will the ethics and rules regarding a journalist’s online presence.

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