Panel discusses social media practices for journalists

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Freelance photographer V. Finster speaks about ethics on social media from her experiences with family members at the SPJ Ethics Panel Feb. 8 in Loftin. Deandra Gonzalez

Reporter said journalist should avoid sharing opinions on social media.

By Janie Medelez

The open-ended availability of social media, its lack of intervening authority and the sense of empowerment it gives to people are dangerous, Marc Duvoisin, editor of the Express-News said at a Feb. 8 ethics panel in the Fiesta Room in Loftin Student Center.

Duvoisin was one of three speakers at the “Perspectives on How to Use Social Media in Journalism” panel hosted by the Society of Professional Journalist Pro Chapter, coordinated by the SPJ President Mike Drudge with this college.

Other speakers were Joey Palacios, reporter at Texas Public Radio and V. Finster, SAC SPJ student chapter president.

The moderator was Nora Lopez, metro editor at San Antonio Express-News and vice president of programming on the SPJ board.

Before an audience of 30, Lopez said journalists are asked to develop a voice and a little bit of a personality, but at the same time they are cautioned not to offer opinions.

Journalist are asked to be civil, courteous, to not say anything that will reflect back negatively on themselves as well as the paper they represent, she said.

Duvoisin explained how journalists need to be mindful when writing because they’re representing their organization. They’re not to write or say anything that will tarnish them, their organization’s objectivity, judgment or professional integrity.

“Rule of thumb I try to keep in mind is, don’t do anything on social media that you wouldn’t publish on the newspaper, say on the radio, publish on the website, it has to be all the same standard,” Duvoisin said.

 Palacios said, “That’s actually NPR standard too. If you wouldn’t say it on air, don’t say it on the web in any capacity, even a Facebook comment to someone.”

“Journalist should never put their own views on anything out there that anybody can find, the internet is searchable,” Palacios said.

One of the golden rule is, journalists should make sure their perspective is unbiased when documenting events, keeping opinions to themselves, he said.

Finster a former student and reporter for The Ranger, said students at this college acting Rangers reporters are taught from day one they’re representing the school’s newspaper.

“They’re unbiased and their social media should reflect it,” she said. “I know that I personally had to take all of my bumper stickers off my car.”

“But I’m very careful when I do post I don’t say my own little piece before posting a story,” Finster said. “I typically don’t share opinion pieces, because I feel like if you’re going to share an opinion piece and you’re not going to explain it, people are going to think you side with that opinion.”

In closing, Lopez asked the panel if they would share their best pieces of advice on social media.

“On social media always take the high road,” Duvoisin said. “You’ll never regret taking the high road and refraining from responding. You’ll never regret taking the high road.”

“Don’t ever, ever, ever, ever, show your bias in any way, shape or form, because you are to supposed to be unbiased,” Palacios said. “Do not put your opinion’s out there or on anything.”

“As a student, I learned to take off that hat of having a social media and what that means, removing it and putting on the journalist hat and using it as a tool, writing to inform,” Finster said.


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