re: internal memo e-mailed to newsroom my SR Editor Steve Smith Thursday p.m.
I wanted to send out a cautionary note re: staffers who participate in our many online blogs and forums.
A few weeks ago, I allowed myself to be sucked into a dynamic and exciting online debate on Huckleberries Online. It was so easy to jump into an argument about religious zealotry that before I knew it, I was debating issues with our readers and expressing relatively strong opinions.
As editor, there are places where it is appropriate for me to express a point of view…but that blog debate wasn’t one of them. My involvement, while personally satisfying, was in appropriate and compromised the newspaper.
I’m not the only staffer who has been drawn to our blogs. At this point in time we don’t have anything in our ethics policies dealing with the appropriate level of involvement. We have a group actively updating our policies and I’m sure this and other aspects of online behavior will be addressed.
Until that time, I would just ask that we all exercise common sense in interacting with readers online. It is always appropriate, in our Transparent Newsroom, to address questions or concerns about our journalism. And for columnists and others with a license to opine, there is plenty of room to exercise opinion.
Othwerwise, please be careful about expressing views about stories you are actively covering or otherwise involved in, be careful of political expression and try to avoid situations where you’re arguing politics, social policy, religion or other such issues with our readers.
As I said, I’m not in any way suggesting rules at this time, just asking for care and common sense. And I promise to do better myself.