de.tech.ting

Washington Post crisis of credibility continues (but don't Twitter that)

Posted by andreaitis on October 5, 2009

“If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.”

That used to be the Washington Post’s ad campaign.

Ironic, huh?

Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander wrote a piece yesterday in response to the Post’s anti-social media guidelines for reporters.  The title, Do Ethics Guidelines Threaten Freewheeling Social Media?, suggests these rules are about ethics.  They’re not.

It would have been fine if Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli said only this:

“What you do on social networks should be presumed to be publicly available to anyone, even if you have created a private account,” the guidelines warn. “If you don’t want something to be found online, don’t put it there.”

But he didn’t.  That good, basic common sense was just part of the guidelines that Brauchli summarized in a staff memo:

“Reporters and editors should not express views that can be construed as political, nor should they take sides in public debates.

There are prohibitions against “writing, tweeting or posting anything — including photographs or video — that could be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism that could be used to tarnish our journalistic credibility.” The guidelines “apply to all Post journalists, without limitation to the subject matter of their assignments.”

I presume Brauchli is okay with this memo making the rounds.  If not, he wouldn’t have written them in an email, right?  Here, though, is the final kicker in Alexander’s column:

To Brauchli, the policies speak to neutrality, which he told me is “essential to maintaining our credibility.”

Neutrality is not the only thing essential to maintaining credibility. Transparency is also essential.  Authenticity, an open dialogue and an open mind to how news happens in today’s world.  And these policies contain more neuter than neutrality.  Newsweek’s Dan Lyons is currently engaging in a conversation right here on True/Slant as journalism students dissect one of his columns.  If Dan worked at the Washington Post, he’d be violating their “prohibitions.”

You’d think the Washington Post would have learned something from the off-the-record exclusive access for cashola lobbyist scandal.

I guess it’s true.  If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.

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One Response to “Washington Post crisis of credibility continues (but don't Twitter that)”

  1. […] from: andreaitis – de.tech.ting – Washington Post crisis of credibility … By admin | category: mobile de | tags: aol, chief, device-support, few-startups, malsing, […]

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