1. Traditional ethics still apply online.

  2. Assume everything you write online will become public.

  3. Use social media to engage with readers, but professionally.

  4. Break news on your website, not on Twitter.

  5. Beware of perceptions.

  6. Independently authenticate anything found on a social networking site.

  7. Always identify yourself as a journalist.

  8. Social networks are tools not toys.

  9. Be transparent and admit when you’re wrong online.

  10. Keep internal deliberations confidential.

From the ASNE 10 Best Practices for Social Media: a great resource for editors trying to establish a social media policy from the American Society of News Editors.

Your responsibilities as a journalist

Even professional journalists sometimes struggle using social media, and the consequences of any missteps can be serious. However, social media provides the best opportunity for journalists to build their own brand, distribute news to the public, and engage with readers, so the balancing act pays off.

Personal vs. Professional Social Media Accounts

The concern for professional journalists is whether or not they should be able to express personal opinions online in addition to their investigative work. Are they always on the clock, or are their personal accounts just that — personal? Some journalists have gotten in trouble for expressing opinions in a disrespectful way on their personal accounts. Many major publications have created social media guides for their staffers to address this gray area. You can find some of these guides linked below.

For high school journalists, these concerns do still apply, but to a lesser extent. It is unreasonable to ask that high schoolers alter their personal social media posting habits for the sake of a journalism club rather than for a professional publication. However, it is still always the best idea to examine personal posts to make sure they are respectful, responsible, and professional.

Posting from the newspaper's social media accounts is a big responsibility. Not only should the account be professional, it should also reflect journalistic standards. The following articles and social media guides go over the ethical responsibilities associated with online journalism.

Further Reading