Staffers at The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday were given a newly compiled list of rules for “professional conduct,” which included a lengthy guide for use of online outlets, noting cautions for activities on social networking sites.
In an e-mail to employees, Deputy Managing Editor Alix Freedman wrote, “We’ve pulled together into one document the policies that guide appropriate professional conduct for all of us in the News Departments of the Journal, Newswires and MarketWatch. Many of these will be familiar.”
In the e-mail the powers that be over at Dow Jones put together, the online activities and guidelines are laid out for staffers of their media properties to ensure that they are keeping their noses clean and not exposing the company in any way. Other areas covered included outside activities, freelance writing, speeches, television and radio appearances, films and journalism prizes.
It is actually a bit refreshing to see some of the subjects that are touched upon in order to maintain journalistic integrity in an age where the phrase itself is becoming an oxymoron. Some of the online areas include:
Base all comments posted in your role as a Dow Jones employee in the facts, drawing from and citing your reporting when appropriate. Sharing your personal opinions, as well as expressing partisan political views, whether on Dow Jones sites or on the larger Web, could open us to criticism that we have biases and could make a reporter ineligible to cover topics in the future for Dow Jones.
Don’t recruit friends or family to promote or defend your work.
Business and pleasure should not be mixed on services like Twitter. Common sense should prevail, but if you are in doubt about the appropriateness of a Tweet or posting, discuss it with your editor before sending.
These are just three of twelve areas addressed for online activities alone. Many would say these are common sense anyway but it is SO dangerous to assume that most people will simply know and follow these guidelines because they are ‘obvious’. You know what they say happens when you assume, right?
Now, of course, for you cynics out there that feel this may be something that was ‘leaked’ to get some good publicity, you may be right. Or you may not be. Either way it’s better to at least have some idea that someone is concerned about doing the right thing in an age where it is more often about doing the thing that generates the most revenue.