Social media use
Journalists should hold to the same ethical standards and guidelines for their use of social media as they do for print or broadcast. The goal is consistent, responsible creation and distribution of student-created journalism.
Staff manual process
Editors should devise a social media guide with clear expectations and make sure all staff members are trained in the procedures before providing username and password information for shared social media accounts.
• Image use: Students should understand posting images to social media is the same as putting in print publications, which includes avoiding copyright violations. Posts should use original photos, get permission to use anything that isn’t fair use, credit all images and clearly label photo illustrations as such.
• Verification for accuracy: Information spreads especially quickly through social media outlets, making it all the more important to fact-check and verify for accuracy before posting. Students should remember it’s more important to be right than to be first in breaking a story.
• Sources: Conducting interviews for information and reaction or perspective is the same here as in any other type of reporting. Students should seek credible sources with direct connections to the topics on which they are reporting and should attribute information accordingly. Students should work to utilize primary sources and should not rely on hearsay or speculation.
• AP or staff-specific style considerations: Students should adhere to the same copy editing guidelines for social media as print media and should proof and edit carefully for consistency and professionalism, especially as their posts can be shared more easily than those appearing in print media.
• Account access (password): Editors should consider who has access to the account information and for what purposes. Beginning staff members may not have enough practice and experience to post on social media without oversight from an editor. Just as most stories and other works go through a chain of editing and/or conferencing from student leaders, social media posts may need a similar chain to guide students in the process. Students outside the program should not have access to posting on staff social media. Similarly, administrators and school officials should not have account access. Seeing content before it appears on social media is prior review. Likewise, administrators and school officials should not have the ability to modify or delete posts. Only students should be able to determine content and take responsibility for all social media posts.
• Student media staffs should not use social media to manipulate or influence others, or as a means to gather information or quotes without identification.
• Personal accounts are not the same as student media accounts and should be kept separate. Staff members have every right to have social media accounts, but only official media profiles should be used for news purposes. Students should be sure to keep their own accounts clear of any content that might compromise the integrity of the student media program.
• Social media posts should indicate whether content is news or opinion.
• Students should verify information from another source before retweeting or sharing on social media.
Ethics Manual for Social Media, National Public Radio
Online Ethical Guidelines for Student Media, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
Going Online: Consider These Points Before You Decide, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
Social Media Guidelines for Student Journalists, Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University
Lesson: Social Media Ethics, Journalism Education Association
Lesson: Online Comments: Allow Anyone to Post or Monitor and Approve First, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
The Social Media Toolbox, Marina Hendricks
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