de.tech.ting

WSJ Rules of Engagement

Posted by andreaitis on May 14, 2009

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Staffers at The Wall Street Journal were the lucky recipients this week of rules for “professional conduct.”   These rules included a long and specific list related to social media and social networking.

Dow Jones spokesman Robert Christie declined to comment to E&P today on why the updated rules were put out at this time, saying they speak for themselves. But it is clear they are in place for those involved in social networking on the likes of Facebook or Twitter, requiring editor approval before “friending” any confidential sources.

“Openly ‘friending’ sources is akin to publicly publishing your Rolodex,” the rules state, adding, “don’t disparage the work of colleagues or competitors or aggressively promote your coverage,” and “don’t engage in any impolite dialogue with those who may challenge your work — no matter how rude or provocative they may seem.”

New ‘WSJ’ Conduct Rules Target Twitter, Facebook

I get why you shouldn’t ‘friend’ a source.  That’s pure common sense, the same way a cop wouldn’t ‘friend’ an informant’ or a lawyer wouldn’t ‘friend’ a key witness.  But don’t aggressively promote your work?  Sure, you don’t want to spam people but promoting your work on social media sites is one way to, y’know, get people to read it.  To draw attention, create a debate, engage the audience.

I think this one is my favorite though:

“Business and pleasure should not be mixed on services like Twitter. Common sense should prevail, but if you are in doubt about the appropriateness of a Tweet or posting, discuss it with your editor before sending.”

Don’t mix business and pleasure on Twitter.

Discuss a Twitter message with an editor before tweeting it.

Um, really?   Does the person who wrote these rules have anything other than a cursory knowledge of Twitter, Facebook and other social media?   Did anyone raise a hand and say, “The point’s over here and you’re missing it”?

For an industry that is supposed to support free speech, inquiry, discourse,  and — at its core — curiosity, I just don’t get how they don’t get it.

I do agree with one point, however.  Common sense should prevail.  Unfortunately, there’s not much common sense in these rules of engagement.

You can see the entire list of rules for online behavior, along with the other rules of conduct included in the e-mail.   What’s your favorite?  And what rules did they miss?

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4 Responses to “WSJ Rules of Engagement”

  1. It’s amazing how Twitter has exploded in the last few months.

    Rather than the concern over reporters being perceived as “human” due to their tweets, I think the media should be biting their nails over exclusivity of information gathering.

    A large part of the value offered by media organizations is the reporting. And journalists are giving that away via Twitter. Their tweets have the added benefit of immediacy. I got more of my information about the White House Correspondents Dinner (aka the Nerd Prom) from journalists’ Twitter feeds than from traditional broadcast, print, or online coverage.

    Maybe news organizations should start feeding their journalists’ Twitter feeds directly into their media sites.

  2. I have a feeling twitter’s star is already fading.

  3. […] True/Slant colleague, Andreaitis, wrote about the WSJ’s draconian “rules of conduct” earlier this week. Check yourself on […]

  4. […] I think about our commenters?” We don’t have a tweeting policy at ATL, unlike at the Wall Street Journal. I decided it was pretty harmless, and meant to be funny after […]

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