Social media policies

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Taking a short break from working on the dissertation, here’s one thing I gleaned from the conversation at the Associated Collegiate Press convention in San Diego: social media needs some guidance.

I’m not talking about guidance for the wider social media community. I don’t care who you’re following, or what you tweet or don’t tweet.

I’m talking about social media guidelines for college media organizations. We spent way too much time in S.D. talking about how to use Twitter – as a journalistic tool, marketing tool, and educational space – and it’s clear that the guidance is still being worked out.

The concern for most people was this: “how do we ensure quality on our Twitter account?” Since Twitter is an instant communication medium, it runs counter to traditional journalistic (print, especially) dogma that everything must be run through an editor, a second set of eyes.

It’s part of your brand (@thepittnews on Twitter is representing the Pitt News on that network, for instance), and you don’t want someone destroying your brand with some ill-advised tweets.

Also, I had the idea that individual Twitter accounts should be placed next to the bylines of individual journalists (like @schuster1600 for David Schuster at MSNBC), but the question came up: What if they use the account for personal communications that should not be affiliated with the news org.? That’s a good question.

My initial response is to only allow social media networks affiliated with the news brand to be used by “trusted” users. The immediacy is the key to services like Twitter or CoverItLive or Mogulus. Remove the immediacy, you remove the value, IMHO.

But for college media, that can be a particularly sticky situation. We need some guidelines. Some (ugh, I always dread saying it) policies. I’m looking out for good “professional” journalism policies for social media use, and I’ll keep you updated on those. In the meantime, if you have suggestions for what should be part of a “social media use policy” for college media outlets, drop it in the comments, or e-mail me at scmurley -at-

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