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July 9, 2014, 2:41 p.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: www.thewire.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   July 9, 2014

That’s according to a memo sent to staffers after a dustup involving a tweet from an NPR account. The memo, first reported yesterday by Romenesko:

“If you wouldn’t say it on the air, don’t say it on the Web.”

That’s been the basic guidance for quite a few years.

In reality, Twitter and other social media sites allow us to show more of our personalities than we might on the air or in a blog post.

BUT, though the words may be on “personal” Twitter or Facebook accounts, what we say can reflect on NPR and raise questions about our ability to be objective.

[…]

Also, despite what many say, retweets should be viewed AS endorsements. Again, from the handbook:

“Tweet and retweet as if what you’re saying or passing along is information that you would put on the air or in a ‘traditional’ NPR.org news story. If it needs context, attribution, clarification or ‘knocking down,’ provide it.”

At one level, this is nonsense. People use their personal accounts for a whole variety of things. The universe of news-related things is only a subset of that — for some, a small subset. A happy note about your kid’s first steps would never be worth putting on air, but it’s totally fine for Twitter; a job is only part of a life. To say that “we don’t behave any differently [on personal social media] than we would in any public setting or on an NPR broadcast” is just silliness.

At another level, NPR has done pretty well operating on the assumption that its audience is intelligent enough that it doesn’t need to be talked down to. The idea that retweeting a politician’s comment is somehow an endorsement of that comment assumes that your followers are idiots. They’re not.

At still another level, is NPR aware that Andy Carvin was an employee there for some time?

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