WSJ staff reminded about social media policies
Wall Street Journal executive editor Matt Murray sent out the following to the staff on Thursday morning:
As all of you know, The Journal has long given strong guidance regarding appropriate use of social media. Still, platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook continue to present us with both opportunities and challenges.
At their best, social platforms can be great engagement tools that allow us to share our journalism, interact with readers and sources and even help with reporting. Our successful paywall strategy thrives partly because of the way stories are shared on social platforms. These are among the reasons we encourage engagement on social media.
But we need to be mindful that social platforms are publishing platforms, to be treated with the same standards and conduct as our own. As news employees of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones, we must represent the best values of our journalism. These include being fair, factual and impartial.
Most of us hit the right notes most of the time. But in expressing political views, other types of commentary and opinion, even attempts at humor that can fall flat without context, we too often present an image that falls far short of these important objectives, undermining our journalism and eroding the hard-won trust of our readers. As our long-standing Code of Conduct states, “All news personnel … should refrain from partisan political activity.” The code expressly includes a prohibition against “posting partisan comments on social networking sites.”
We stand for the power of informed and impartial news and analysis. Partisan political tweets or Facebook posts by news employees, even those not responsible for political coverage, can singly and collectively undermine that impartiality and the power of our journalism in the view of readers and the people, companies and institutions that are the subjects of our reporting.
Finding the right note isn’t always easy, but as always, a good rule of thumb is: If in doubt, don’t post it.
We’d also like to remind you to be judicious about how much time you devote to social platforms. While we encourage social engagement and sharing of our journalism, some staffers frankly are spending too much time tweeting and posting during the day.
We serve readers best when we focus our time and professional attention on making the best WSJ news products. Whatever your role in the newsroom, be it engineer, graphic artist, video producer or reporter, your talent and effort is what produces news in all its manifestations that informs and delights our readers. Excessive time spent on social media platforms works against this singular priority.
If you have any questions, broadly or about a specific tweet or post, or if you’d just like to discuss the issue further, feel free to reach out to one of us. It’s important that we get this right as a newsroom.
Matt & Neal