Wed | Jan 18, 2017

Social Media Policy

The Gleaner Company Limited's Social Media Policy

Introduction

There continues to be constant development and change in the field of technology.

The Internet continues to be widely used by tens of millions worldwide. It provides a number of benefits to editorial staff in newsrooms globally.

This social media policy sets out the principles that the Gleaner Company Ltd editorial workers, including contractors and freelancers, are expected to uphold.

For the purposes of this document, 'social media' includes blogs, microblogs like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, forums and commenting functions (such as Disques), photo-sharing networks and applications such as Instagram, and other personal web-space.

Social Media Guidelines

Since our professional life and social life are intertwined in the online world, just as they are offline, when using social networks, we must protect our professional integrity and the independence of the newspaper. The newsroom's reputation for impartiality, objectivity and professionalism is crucial. Nothing must be done to damage the qualities associated with our reputation. This must be guarded and protected.

The intention of these guidelines is not to prevent staff, freelancers or contractors associated with the newsroom from conducting legitimate activities on the Internet, instead they serve to point to areas where conflicts can arise and to protect our integrity, credibility, honesty and professionalism as communicators.

These guidelines are therefore meant to assist us to navigate the evolving social media landscape that has become a valuable tool for us as committed and dedicated media workers.

1. Main Credibility

All Editorial Department employees, freelancers and contractors are encouraged to have accounts on social networks. They have become an essential tool to gather news and share links of our published work. However, you must be mindful that accounts maintained by you reflect upon the reputation and credibility of the Gleaner Company Ltd.'s newsroom. Even as we express ourselves in more personal and informal ways, we must be ever mindful of preserving the reputation of the Company's for unbiased journalistic excellence, fairness and independence. You should avoid participating in partisan campaigns. You should avoid participating in attacks on the character of individuals, especially those in the news. You should avoid participating in organized action in support of causes or movements that could impact negatively on yours and the company's reputation. Every comment or link you share should be considered public information, regardless of privacy settings.

2. Avoid Real or Apparent Conflicts

Editorial employees and others, whether you work in print, radio or on the web, or whether you work as a reporter, editor, photographer, sub-editor or freelancer, should not accept or post tokens, badges or virtual gifts from political or partisan causes. Each person should monitor information on public profiles for appropriateness.

3. Friending/Following

It is acceptable to extend and accept Facebook friend requests from sources, politicians and newsmakers, if necessary for reporting purposes, and follow them on Twitter. However, care should be taken when joining, following or 'friending' any person or organization. Editorial employees and freelancers should avoid involvement in any social networks related to partisan politics or advocacy groups, unless specifically permitted by the Editor-in-Chief or his nominee.

4. Always Be Professional

Social networks are no place for the discussion of internal editorial issues such as sourcing, reporting of stories, and decisions to publish or not to publish. The same is true for opinions or information regarding any business activities of the Gleaner Company Ltd. Posting the Company's proprietary or confidential material is prohibited.

Attacks on individuals and organization or derogatory comments must be avoided at all times. The comments you make may impact yours and the company's reputation and professionalism.

5. Always Be Mindful Of Taste

Editorial employees must refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything — including photographs or video — that could be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favouritism. This applies regardless of whether you indicate that you are employed to the Gleaner Company Ltd or not. Take ownership. If you mistakenly retweet or forward erroneous information, correct your mistake in a subsequent tweet/update. You should steer clear of retweeting rumours and hearsay. Unadorned retweets such as “Portia is clueless”, “Bolt is an idiot” or “Omar is trash”, must be avoided.

6. Privacy

Those associated with the newsroom should be mindful that any opinions or personal information they disclose about themselves or colleagues may be linked to the newspaper's name. That's true even if you restrict your pages to viewing only by friends. We recommend customizing your privacy settings on Facebook to determine what you share and with whom. However, as hundreds of people have learned, virtually nothing is truly private on the Internet.

7. Look Before You Link

Link-sharing is a core function of social networking. We “follow” people on social networks because we trust them to filter content on the basis of some expertise. Our fans and followers must trust our links to be informative. Social media encourages sharing of the human experience, but we should balance personal information with useful information.

8. You Must Be Careful With Online Information

Information on social media is owned. Always attribute your sources of information from the Internet, be it a person or a platform. Readers ascribe different values to different sources, so they need to know, for example when something comes from a user on Twitter as opposed to physical investigation. Fact-check. Information on social networks needs to be verified like any other information before publication or posting. Work to verify the authenticity of people and organizations mentioned before attributing facts or quotes to them in any story you may write. In other words, you must exercise the same caution with regards to libel and fairness as you would on any other of our platforms.

9. Penalty For Breach

Repeated breach of the guidelines outlined in this social media policy could result in disciplinary action according to stated Company rules and regulations, some of which are outlined in the Company's Employees Handbook.

10. Code of Ethics

Please regard this as an update of our Code of Ethics and professionalism.