by Alex Warner
140 characters can have a really big impact; especially when those words are coming from a trusted news source. One misinformed tweet can tarnish a story and a reputation in a matter of seconds. That's why it's becoming more important to create social media guidelines for journalism.
For journalism, much of what is implemented in any code of ethics should be applied when posting to a social media website. As social media is becoming a more prevalent way for people to get their news, it's crucial for the media to get out the information out in a timely manner, but also to be accurate with that information.
But what happens when a random person, not affiliated with a news company tweets or posts something that is news? Can it be trusted to be accurate? With the ability for anyone to influence the flow of news, it can be difficult to determine what is accurate and what is not; this is citizen journalism. According to Google, citizen journalism is the collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and informant by the general public, especially by means of the Internet.
Though as a citizen with the power to share information, one does not necessarily correct their inaccurate information. Journalists on the other hand have a job to be transparent with their viewers and correct and false or misleading information. Getting verification and confirmation of news is what separates a news corporation's tweets from those of personal tweets pertaining to news. When there is a story, it is a journalist's job to verify information to send to the public. Anyone with a personal Twitter or Facebook account won't go that extra mile and just post by word of mouth.
That also goes for correcting information that is inaccurate. In an article from Poynter, about how news organizations handle corrections today, a Poynter employee said, “The principle with social media is that if you shared the incorrect content via social media, then you also need to share the correction there well."
|Courtesy of Market Wired Blog - http://mwne.ws/1MBd0Hv|
Even larger corporations such as Coca-Cola have their own set of Social Media Principles to follow for anyone who represents their company. In the introduction to the principles, the company tells its employees to, "Have fun, but be smart." Then it lists the many principles to follow when posting or tweeting to social media. One would find them much similar to those of a set of ethics codes. The company even goes as far as to lay out guidelines for personal social media use to be certain employees will keep Coca-Cola's brand in tact.
If every company could lay out guidelines for their social media usage, more companies and news outlets could avoid posting false information or things that don't adhere to their company's motto. No matter what, being accurate and transparent with an audience will bring more attention to a company's posts than anything else. So it is vital to have these as key points in a company's social media principles.