The Times is transparent about rolling out new guidelines, but the guidelines are anti-transparency.
I’m in favor of mainstream media reporters and news people speaking their political minds on social media.
Let it all hang out, tell us how much you hate Republicans/Conservatives/Non-Liberals/Americans/Donald Trump/Deplorables etc.
Lay your political biases on the table for all the world to see. If your news reporting is straight up and supported, it shouldn’t make a difference. But be transparent.
That’s our philosophy and has been since inception. You know where we stand on the politics, and you can judge our reporting and opinion posts in that context.
The NY Times, however, doesn’t want you to be able to know how its reporters really feel. The Times just rolled out new social media guideline meant to sanitize the clear political biases of its reporters to preserve a fictitious Times’ political neutrality.
In its announcement, the Times gave this explanation:
The New York Times announced on Friday an updated and expanded set of guidelines for our newsroom for our journalists’ use of social media.
The new guidelines underscore our newsroom’s appreciation for the important role social media now plays in our journalism, but also call for our journalists to take extra care to avoid expressing partisan opinions or editorializing on issues that The Times is covering.
In the interest of transparency, we’ve included the complete guidelines below, along with an introductory memo sent to the newsroom by Dean Baquet, our executive editor.
It’s nice that the Times is transparent about rolling out new guidelines, but the guidelines are anti-transparency. The introductory portion of the Guidelines makes clear that the goal is to preserve the perception of Times’ news reporting neutrality, even if the reporters are not neutral:
But social media presents potential risks for The Times. If our journalists are perceived as biased or if they engage in editorializing on social media, that can undercut the credibility of the entire newsroom.
We’ve always made clear that newsroom employees should avoid posting anything on social media that damages our reputation for neutrality and fairness. This memo offers more detailed guidelines.
Here are selected portions of the Guidelines:
• In social media posts, our journalists must not express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates, make offensive comments or do anything else that undercuts The Times’s journalistic reputation.
* * *
• Avoid joining private and “secret” groups on Facebook and other platforms that may have a partisan orientation. You should also refrain from registering for partisan events on social media. If you are joining these groups for reporting purposes, please take care in what you post.
* * *
• If you don’t know whether a social media post conforms to Times standards, ask yourself these questions:
1. Would you express similar views in an article on The Times’s platforms?
2. Would someone who reads your post have grounds for believing that you are biased on a particular issue?
3. If readers see your post and notice that you’re a Times journalist, would that affect their view of The Times’s news coverage as fair and impartial?
4. Could your post hamper your colleagues’ ability to effectively do their jobs?
5. If someone were to look at your entire social media feed, including links and retweets, would they have doubts about your ability to cover news events in a fair and impartial way?
The Washington Post’s new motto is “Democracy Dies In Darkness.”
So will the transparency of political bias at the NY Times, if the new Social Media Guidelines have their intended effect.
I much prefer when mainstream reporters tell us how they really feel, not a sanitized version to create a false impression of neutrality https://t.co/XXzNmMXOzh
— Legal Insurrection (@LegInsurrection) October 13, 2017
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