Sunday, May 4, 2008

Plan to work in journalism and keep a personal blog?

Poynter ethics group leader Kelly McBride writes:
I counsel journalists who keep personal blogs to employ a no-surprises rule. Always let your boss know if you have a blog. Ask for guidelines, if they don't exist. Never say anything in the blog that you wouldn't say out loud, to the primary stakeholders...
Some of her advice for employers trying to formulate a blogging policy:
  • Consider what you're comfortable having employees discuss in public:
    • Nothing about the newsroom at all? That might be unrealistic.
    • Nothing about stories in development? That seems fair.
    • Nothing that puts the company in a negative light? Sure, you've got a right to require that, but you might define negative carefully.
    • Nothing about sources? Good idea. Journalists who say things about their sources that they wouldn't put into their stories are treading in dangerous territory.
    • Nothing embarrassing or negative about your colleagues. (I had a young journalist once ask me if she crossed a line by blogging about a fellow reporter's bathroom habits. Yes, I told her, I thought that was rude. Maybe not unethical, but definitely rude.)
My own thought, with the campaign season upon us: Many outlets don't want their newsroom employees publicly identifying their political views -- whether it be a bumper sticker, sign in their yard or making campaign donations (which are public record). I'd bet most of those bosses, even if they haven't specified it in written policy yet, would feel the same way about blog entries or even joining Facebook groups for/against candidates.


Stewart Nusbaumer said...

so much for the land of the free and the brave.