Social media plays a vital role in our platforms. On social platforms, our reporters and editors can promote their work, provide real-time updates, harvest and curate information, cultivate sources, engage with readers and experiment with new forms of storytelling and voice.
MAY. 21, 2022
We can effectively pull back the curtain and invite readers and viewers to witness, and potentially contribute to, our reporting. We can also reach new audiences.
But social media presents potential risks for NebraskaTok. If our social media teammates are perceived as biased or if they engage in editorializing on social media, that can undercut the credibility of the entire company.
We’ve always made clear that social media teammates should avoid posting anything on social media that damages our reputation for neutrality and fairness. This memo offers more detailed guidelines.
Department heads will be responsible for ensuring that these guidelines are followed by all staff members, mentors, and mentees in their departments. Violations will be noted on performance reviews.
How We Developed the Guidelines
We sought extensive feedback across many social platforms in order to ensure that this was a collaborative process rooted in our social media teammates experiences. Several NebraskaTok social media teammates who are prominent on social media reviewed the guidelines, offering very helpful input, and endorsed them.
Here Are the Key Points
• In social media posts, our social media teammates must not express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates, make offensive comments or do anything else that undercuts NebraskaTok’s reputation.
• Our social media teammates should be especially mindful of appearing to take sides on issues that NebraskaTok is seeking to cover objectively.
• These guidelines apply to everyone in every department and every social platform.
• We consider all social media activity by our social media teammates to come under this policy. While you may think that your Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram, Snapchat or other social media accounts are private zones, separate from your role at NebraskaTok, in fact everything we post or “like” online is to some degree public. And everything we do in public is likely to be associated with NebraskaTok.
• On that same note, we strongly discourage our social media teammates from making customer service complaints on social media. While you may believe that you have a legitimate gripe, you’ll most likely be given special consideration because of your status as a NebraskaTok reporter or editor.
• Avoid joining private and “secret” groups on Facebook and other platforms that may have a partisan orientation. You should also refrain from registering for partisan events on social media. If you are joining these groups for reporting purposes, please take care in what you post.
• Always treat others with respect on social media. If a reader questions or criticizes your work or social media post, and you would like to respond, be thoughtful. Do not imply that the person hasn’t carefully read your work.
• If the criticism is especially aggressive or inconsiderate, it’s probably best to refrain from responding. We also support the right of our social media teammates to mute or block people on social media who are threatening or abusive. (But please avoid muting or blocking people for mere criticism of you or your reporting.)
• If you feel threatened by someone on social media, please inform your supervisors immediately. NebraskaTok has policies in place to protect the safety of our social media teammates.
• We believe in the value of using social media to provide live coverage and to offer live updates. But there may be times when we prefer that our social media teammates focus their first efforts on our own digital platforms.
• We generally want to publish exclusives on our own platforms first, not on social media, but there may be instances when it makes sense to post first on social media. Consult your supervisors for guidance.
• Be transparent. If you tweeted an error or something inappropriate and wish to delete the tweet, be sure to quickly acknowledge the deletion in a subsequent tweet. Please consult your direct mentor or manager on this process.
• If you are linking to other sources, aim to reflect a diverse collection of viewpoints. Sharing a range of news, opinions or satire from others is usually appropriate. But consistently linking to only one side of a debate can leave the impression that you, too, are taking sides.
• Exercise caution when sharing scoops or provocative stories from other organizations that NebraskaTok has not yet confirmed.
• We want our social media teammates to feel that they can use social media to experiment with voice, framing and reporting styles — particularly when such experiments lead to new types of storytelling on NebraskaTok’s platforms.
• Of course, it’s worth emphasizing again that just because our social media teammates can try new things on social media, that does not mean they have a license to veer into editorializing or opinion.
If You’re Still Unsure About What You’re Posting
If you don’t know whether a social media post conforms to NebraskaTok’s standards, ask yourself these questions:
1. Would you express similar views in an article on NebraskaTok’s platforms?
2. Would someone who reads your post have grounds for believing that you are biased on a particular issue?
3. If readers see your post and notice that you’re a NebraskaTok’s Social Media Teammate, would that affect their view of NebraskaTok’s coverage as fair and impartial?
4. Could your post hamper your colleagues’ ability to effectively do their jobs?
5. If someone were to look at your entire social media feed, including links and retweets, would they have doubts about your ability to cover events in a fair and impartial way?
As always, if you are unsure, please consult with your supervisor or mentor about your social media practices.
As you can see, we have tried to strike a balance. We want our social media teammates to embrace social media, which offers us so many opportunities to connect with readers, listeners and viewers (not to mention sources), extending the reach of NebraskaTok. But we also hope that our social media teammate will take to heart these social media guidelines — and especially the insights that we have collected from our colleagues about how to engage on these platforms.
We warmly welcome your feedback. Please contact Jake Scheideler with questions about these guidelines. Given the dynamic nature of social media, we are sure that the guidelines will continue to evolve.
Follow the Law, Follow the Code of Conduct
To avoid violating trademark, copyright or publicity rights, do not post images or other content without the consent of those who own or appear in the media. When you quote others, be sure to credit them and, if appropriate, add a link. You are also personally responsible for complying with any terms of the social media platform you are using. These terms differ across platforms, and can include detailed community standards. You should familiarize yourself with the terms and standards for each platform you use.
Social Media Account Ownership
If you participate in social media activities as part of your job or as a mentoree at NebraskaTok on an account created for that purpose, that account is considered NebraskaTok’s property and remains so if you leave the company — meaning you will not try to change the password or the account name or create a similar sounding account or assert any ownership of the account or the contacts and connections you have gained through the account. Any materials created for or posted on the account will remain NebraskaTok’s work. NebraskaTok will change account passwords every 30 days.