Social media has changed the way that people around the world get the news, and journalists and the organizations that employ them have had to quickly adapt. Today, most people find their news on Facebook or twitter. Journalists have also confessed, they too use these social media platforms in search of potential, ‘breaking news’. In the same way, many journalists have been urged by newsroom management to use these spaces as a place to share their work and connect with the public. But are they successfully navigating the space, separating news from personal opinions?
The Elderman Media Forcast notes that 75 percent of journalists say that they use Twitter to build their own brand. Not the brand of the agency they represent, but their personal brand. What seems to be the result is industry leaders are today expressing mixed feelings about newsroom staff using social media to engage with readers and sources, partly because of the risk that they will give opinions rather than facts. Also, part of the debate about how journalists should use social media centers on audience members, specifically, how this trend impacts their view of journalists and their work.
Yes, journalists need to evolve with social media in order to retain their eminence as the go-to news source, and no one is disputing that. The challenge is, while social media may bring a wider variety of people to an issue and can give a voice to those who were once voiceless and overlooked, the line between a journalist’s personal opinion and newsroom facts are so blurred, many still wonder who is speaking – the journalist or the news agency. So again the question remains, do journalists have a right to personal opinion especially on issues that are current? Steve Buttry, Director of the Buttry Diary gives some perspective on the matter. Have a read and share your views.
- Opinions are not fundamentally unethical journalism, but to be safe, should be left editorial writers and columnists.
- Opinions matter, and the place of opinions in journalism is being reassessed on many fronts. While this is true, one should be very careful as readers may read a column or personal note that expressed a viewpoint and then expected to see that viewpoint reflected in stories by that journalist.
- Decisions about using Twitter should be guided by good journalism ethics, not by special rules or practices for Twitter. – If your editor and you decide it is best not to express opinions (at all or on a particular issue such as Occupy), that doesn’t mean you can’t show some personality in social media. You can show some humor, you can tweet about your family, you can tweet sports loyalties (perhaps not if you’re a sports writer), you can tweet about other interests such as gardening, travel, etc.
See link below to his full blog post from the Buttry Dairy. https://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/questions-and-answers-about-journalists-opinions-in-social-media/