Liz Heron, the social media editor at The New York Times, is refreshingly honest about her paper’s policies about Twitter and Facebook.
Or lack thereof, as the case may be.
“We don’t really have any social media guidelines,” she told the audience at the BBC’s Social Media Summit. “We basically just tell people to use common sense and don’t be stupid.”
While last year, she and the other two social media editors encouraged journalists to use social media like a distribution channel, this year they want writers and reporters to interact with people.
The three goals for the social media platforms are to increase “user engagement and newsgathering on our main accounts,” “amplifying our journalists’ voice for those who are doing [social media] really well,” and add a social media component to high-impact stories coming out of the newsroom like a Facebook chat when Osama bin Laden was killed.
The Times is encouraging its staffers to reach out, but they do not want to have too heavy a hand.
“We don’t want to scare people into being afraid to use social media to its fullest potential,” Heron said. “We really want to trust them to do it well.”
The NYT also plans to start focusing on Facebook more since they have “cracked that code” on Twitter but haven’t been as successful on Facebook.