Do you let your content writers tweet updates from your competitor publishers? The Hindu doesn’t.
That’s according to a memo sent by The Hindu managing editor P. Jacob and senior managing editor V. Jayanth that Mint reviewed earlier today. The note tells reporters, “We need particularly to ensure that in our enthusiasm and urge to participate in an on-line discussion or debate, we do not end up doing a favor to the competition.”
The stance The Hindu is taking with its new and still evolving social media policy for journalists is one that runs counter to the free flow of information sharing that is inherent in social media and social networking. In other words, it raises the question of how news organizations should be using social media. Are they using social media to spread factual information or are they using it strictly as a marketing channel?
Even as a marketing channel, silo-ing your brand isn’t a good idea in social media, so it’s unlikely that this new social media policy will benefit The Hindu in the long-term. It defies the very purpose of social media and tools like Twitter.
Vidhi Choudhary from Mint reports that neither Mint nor The Wall Street Journal prohibit reporters from tweeting or sharing stories from other media organizations or from journalists who work for those other media organizations.
However, it’s not completely unusual for media organizations around the world to have social media policies that restrict journalists from tweeting specific types of content. What sticks out in the case of The Hindu is the instruction that employees should not share an interesting or useful tweet simply because a journalist from a different media organization tweeted it.
Here are some links to social media policies (for various employees, not just reporters) for a number of news organizations for comparison:
- Associated Press- Social Media Guidelines
- BBC – Social Media Guidelines
- BBC – Social Networking, Microblogs, Third Party Sites: Personal Use
- Los Angeles Times
- Reuters – Reporting from the Internet and Using Social Media
- Thomson Reuters – Social Media Guidelines
Yes, it makes sense to suggest that your employees look for an internal source before tweeting content from a competitor, but not allowing writers to tweet competitors’ content runs counter to the domino-effect of social media.
As the saying goes—a rising tide lifts all boats.
Do you require your writers to adhere to a social media policy? What requirements and restrictions do you think are valuable for Authoritative Content publishers? Share your thoughts in the comments below.