Today, October 13, 2017, the New York Times introduced its new social media policy for people who work in the Times newsroom. Not only is it interesting to read — it may will also become a useful document for educators to share with students. The policy clearly illustrates the advice educators share over and over with 21st Century young people, basically that anything a person puts online can become a public story.
The new policy directs Times reporters and other newsroom employees to assume that all of their personal social media activities can be interpreted as the newspaper’s point of view — even if the subject has nothing to do with issues or subjects that reporters cover. The document describes the newspaper’s expectations for journalists and includes perspectives from journalists who offer thoughts about digital issues challenge their professional lives.
So much of the time we ask young people to exercise caution when they work and play online. We tell them to be mindful of language, replies and comments, their likes, and even what other members of their groups post. We tell them that nothing is private and that their personal activities may negatively reflect their school, friends, and, family. Unfortunately a school’s social media and acceptable use policies cannot concretely illustrate how personal actions affect responsibilities and cause repercussions, or even cause problems for an individual’s employer.
The Times’s social media policy will be a helpful teaching tool, demonstrating for students how an individual’s digital life can interfere with or support professional work.