Social Media Reminder: Don’t Share Personal Opinions About Controversial Issues

Our coverage yesterday (and days before and surely in days to come) of the news surrounding the Kavanaugh nomination has been excellent. Thank you.

No one here wants to do anything that would raise questions about NPR’s work – which brings us back to a topic we’ve addressed before.

Social media.

From our Ethics Handbook:

- Do not advocate for political or other polarizing issues online. This extends to your Facebook page or a personal blog. Don’t express personal views on a political or other controversial issue that you could not write for the air or post on NPR.org. These guidelines apply whether you are posting under your own name or — if the online site allows pseudonyms — your identity would not be readily apparent. In reality, anything you post online reflects both on you and on NPR.

- Conduct yourself online just as you would in any other public circumstances as an NPR journalist.

After all, we take great pride in our objectivity and independence, and the fairness of our political coverage. We do not want a few words on social media to wrongly suggest a bias one way or the other.

- The [team covering an event such as the Kavanaugh nomination is] in charge of what “NPR is reporting” on social media. If you want to post about [NPR's reporting], let them go first and then retweet what they’re reporting. Don’t even get ahead of them based on what you may see in emails to the desk that are marked “reportable.” Those are for internal use and the language in them may not have been given a final edit. Let that news go out on our various platforms and then share it.

- Speaking of retweeting, our position is that retweets may be seen as endorsements. Please remember that you should:

“Tweet and retweet as if what you’re saying or passing along is information that you would put on the air or in a ‘traditional’ NPR.org news story. If it needs context, attribution, clarification or ‘knocking down,’ provide it.”

And, this guidance about Election Day social media etiquette applies on other days as well:

- This may seem obvious, but is worth making clear for those doing this for the first time. On Election Day/Night, we do not celebrate or complain about the results on social media.

Again, our coverage has been excellent. We can certainly celebrate it and share it on social media. But we should also all be mindful that we don’t want to do anything on social media that might raise questions about NPR’s work.

(“Memmos;” Sept. 28, 2018)

September 28, 2018

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