I just read this article off www.mashable.com regarding the Washington Post‘s attempt at damage control on a minor Tweeting war. Basically, the Washington Post is telling its reporters that while it is ok to use Social Media to spread stories, it is not ok to respond to critics through social media. According to the memo sent out to staff members, “We sometimes engage them in a private verbal conversation, but once we enter a debate personally through social media, this would be equivalent to allowing a reader to write a letter to the editor–and then publishing a rebuttal by the reporter.”
My thoughts on this? The media of yesterday is not the media of today. Journalism students are told to include their Twitter handles on their resumes. People use social media constantly to check the news. Thanks to social media, there is much more participation between the public and the media. Whether it be through message boards, Twitter, Facebook comments, etc., consumers of media can interact with reporters to let their voices be heard. For this to happen in the past, it would have taken a letter to the editor (that first had to be chosen to be published and was likely severely edited). Reporters should be allowed to exercise their First Amendment right that they hold so dear and be able to converse with others.
The article on Mashable summed up my feelings with this simple statement:
“Sure, it makes sense that they should rein in who manages the Washington Post-branded Twitter account, as that could be seen as an “official” response of the company and not an individual. But putting a stop on engagement and conversation regarding Post stories from journalists will only distance those reporters from the very community they are a part of.”
I read a tweet yesterday from @ASUInitiatives stating: “25 percent news industry jobs disappeared since 2001. Yeesh. Yet news consumption at all time high.” If reporters want to keep their jobs and news media want to stay in business, they need to change with the times.