Journalists use an increasing number of different formats to express themselves in their own name – personal or professional blogs, social networks, etc.
What status do these pieces have with regard to the media organisation that employs them?
Must professional journalists follow the editorial line of their employer when communicating via the internet? How is freedom of expression for the journalist – who is also a citizen – guaranteed?
De Standaard : Authorised and free
Europe 1 : Information not provided
France 24 : Supported but not proofread
Blogs have to remain a free area. Some are written by France 24 journalists, others by external contributors (experts from third-party organisations or observers). Bloggers are assisted by a team leader who will explain what is expected of them, support them and guide them. But their posts are not reviewed by an editorial head as the content of the website is.
Le Monde : The rules are currently being clarified.
The same newspaper rules apply to blogs affiliated with Le Monde.fr. A reviewing procedure by the department heads is being put in place with the bi-media editorial re-organisation. This is already the case for political blogs, in anticipation of the coming presidential election.
A user guide for social networks is being drawn up.
Ouest France : This is currently being reviewed
There is a plan for a working group to draw up a code of good practice for social networks covering both the searching for information and journalist contributions.
Berliner Zeitung : Two different categories
The newspaper rules apply to blogs associated with the berliner-zeitung.de website.
As there have never been any conflicts concerning journalists’ private Facebook or Twitter accounts, we have no formal rules.
ZDF : Separate status
The internal administrative order of 1 October 2012 concerns the professional usage of social media and stresses, above all, the principle that there must be a strict separation between professional and private use for ZDF staff.
The Irish Times : A grey area
Those journalists who express themselves in blogs or on social media in their own names are asked to observe the newspaper rules. The request is not necessarily observed by these journalists and this can create problems.
When there was a call to demonstrate or take a position on abortion, for example, they engaged in discussions in their role as citizens with the rights of citizens. This may create conflicts with the independent position of the media they work for.
Political journalists are not allowed to be members of political parties and financial journalists are not authorised to make transactions on the financial markets.
Polskie Radio, kanal 3 : Used with caution
While the rules are not explicit regarding what is expressed off-air, caution is still required when journalists express themselves privately on websites, blogs or social media. A Polskie Radio employee was fired in 2013 for a Facebook post.
BBC : Duty of confidentiality
The rules of the channel apply to BBC-identified blogs whose texts have been read and validated by a department head.
For personal blogs, Twitter and Facebook, journalists have to use professional discretion. They cannot express their political opinions.
The Guardian : It is treated the same as all other journalism
The Guardian considers blogs as a new and different form of journalism which must respect the rules in place for all group titles – no insults, transparency on how the information was obtained and particular attention to the hypertext links included.
The newspaper also feels that information in blogs must be checked with particular care.