Social Media Ethics in Reporting

While the Internet and social media can be invaluable resources in both collecting and distributing information, they also present significant challenges for reporters.

Our advice? Tread carefully and exercise the same healthy skepticism and integrity that you would in any other arena.

Even in your so-called “personal” accounts, stay mindful of your role as a reporter and be wary of any perception of bias that your status updates, Tweets and retweets might suggest.

A team of NPR journalists, producers, editors and others compiled an excellent resource, the NPR Ethics Handbook, that delves more deeply into questions of ethics in the new media world. The book has an entire chapter devoted exclusively to social media.

Follow any of the links below for more on each of the handbook’s key principles and social media guidelines:

Accuracy

Don’t just spread information. Be careful and skeptical. #
When in doubt, consult the social media team. #
Follow up offline when appropriate. #
Take care in using images that have been posted online. #

Honesty

Online sources should be on-the-record too. #

Independence

When posting or gathering material online, consider terms of service. #

Impartiality

Our standards of impartiality also apply to social media. #

Accountability

Social media outlets are public spaces. #
Self-protection is part of being accountable online. #
Consider the legal implications of your actions, regardless of the medium. #

Respect

Be considerate of community norms. #
Respect NPR’s copyright. #

Excellence

Social media are excellent tools when handled correctly. #

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