Campaign-Time Reminder: ‘Don’t Sign, Don’t Advocate, Don’t Donate’

(Editor’s note on July 27, 2017: Click here to go to an updated special section about the do’s and don’t's of social media.)

Labor Day Weekend means summer is almost over and that the 2014 campaign is about to really get going. So it’s time to remind everyone (and make sure new folks are aware) that as the Ethics Handbook says:

“We’re not advocates. We may not run for office, endorse candidates or otherwise engage in politics in a participatory or activist manner. … We should not sign petitions or otherwise contribute support or money to political causes or public campaigns. Also: we don’t put political signs in our yards or bumper stickers on our cars.”

And remember, there is no privacy on the Web. Posting on Facebook or Twitter or another social media site that you support a political cause or a political candidate is the virtual equivalent of putting a sign in your front yard.

On a related note, there’s also a lot happening (as there often is) on the National Mall and other places around the nation. So here’s another reminder:

“There is real journalistic value in being an observer at public events such as a march or rally, even without a reporting assignment. But while we may observe, we refrain from actively participating in marches, rallies or public events involving political issues or partisan causes that our organization covers or may cover. Of course, the distinction between being a participant and being an observer can be subtle. But waving a picket sign or joining along in a cheer would be inappropriate. Again, we rely on your good judgment.

“Since the nature of each event differs, it’s wise to discuss these matters ahead of time with supervisors to figure out where ethical pressure points may exist or emerge. If attending such an event as an observer, take care in behavior, comments, attire and physical location not to reflect a participatory role.”

There’s more in the handbook, including a discussion of “the evolution of our guidance on marches, rallies and public events.”

(Memmos; Aug. 25, 2014)

August 25, 2014

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