Reuters’ rules for Twitter

March 12, 2010

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“We want to encourage you to use social media approaches in your journalism but we also need to make sure that you are fully aware of the risks — especially those that threaten our hard-earned reputation for independence and freedom from bias or our brand.” Says who? Reuters, the respected UK-based, Canadian-controlled news agency.

They have recently issued a set of specialised guidelines about “Reporting from the Internet and using social media”.

It’s interesting to see what position Reuters is taking with respect to their journalists’ use of especially Twitter: Can I use Twitter as a source?, When should I tweet?, Can I break news via Twitter?

If on the one hand Reuters feels they cannot afford to miss the boad of social media, they clearly invite their staff to be careful and take a fairly defensive stance. I do not mean this negatively. It is indeed noteworthy to see how a news giant deals with the tricky job of reconciling the open-ended, grassroots nature of social media with professional standards their reliability is based on. More generally, any attempt to preserve social media from the negative side effects of the “Cult of the Amateur” trap is useful to take into consideration.

So, here we go – and hope for your comments and reactions.

Reuters Handbook of Journalism

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