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LA Times Social Media Guidelines Lead to Much More

LA TimesThe LA Times has updated their social media guidelines for their journalists and there is the usual ruckus about everyone being too restrictive. Originally written in March of this year the update makes sense since the 8 months or so that have passed since the first take is like a lifetime in the social media world. In fact, the real story here may be that the LA Times hasn’t taken a ‘set it and forget it’ approach to their social media guidelines so please take note everybody.

Editor & Publisher and the Huffington Post are both talking about the updates. Interestingly enough, I heard about it from @michacha101 who is one of those people that I have no idea why I follow on Twitter but have gained value from doing so. Having said that (and given them a plug) I am learning more about the openness of the social media environment and the value that can be taken from it. Journalists drool over this kind of exposure and availability of information. Trouble is that for the sake of ‘objectivity’ or ‘political correctness or whatever there will always be rules and regs that restrict just how effective the medium can be.

The Huffington Post tells us that some of the LA Times policies include

  • Integrity is our most important commodity: Avoid writing or posting anything that would embarrass The Times or compromise your ability to do your job.
    Assume that your professional life and your personal life will merge online regardless of your care in separating them.
  • Even if you use privacy tools (determining who can view your page or profile, for instance), assume that everything you write, exchange or receive on a social media site is public.
  • Just as political bumper stickers and lawn signs are to be avoided in the offline world, so too are partisan expressions online.

There’s a lot of detail that I am leaving out here and here’s why. I have to give the LA Times credit for being on the ball. You see the Huffington Post had only one comment but it was from Andrew Nystrom / L.A. Times social media guy / @AdNys who was completely transparent by saying:

Thank you for writing about our new Guidelines. For the record, here are links to:

- The full text of our revised Social Media Guidelines: — our original Guidelines were issued in March 2009, before the WaPo or WSJ (and most other major media outlets) issued theirs.

- Our directory of 200+ L.A. Times(@lat¬imes)-rela¬ted Twitter accounts:

- The full text of our 2007 Ethics Guidelines (currently under revision):

Hope this is helpful. I welcome all feedback.

Nice move.

So let’s recap. As a result of the social media ‘world’ I got data from someone that was of interest, that was about information that can be seen both positively and negatively depending on your point of view but was ultimately made completely transparent by the source which ultimately reflects positively on them. Pretty cool.

So if you really think that people care about where you are walking and what you see it’s likely that you are just really enamored with yourself. What people really want is information that helps. Thanks to everyone who helped here.


  1. [...] sure to update their guidelines regularly. For a much better read check out this article on the LA Times social media guidelines at the Marketing Pilgrim. Here are some other related [...]

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