Chez Pazienza, fired from CNN six months ago for his blogging, would "really like to let the subject of my untimely dismissal from CNN go once and for all." But! He just got hold of a juicy memo, CNN's brand-new guide for blogging. "You know, the policy they didn't have in place when they made the decision to fire me and a few others like me, and the one that I've openly criticized them for neglecting to enact and clarify?" Yeah, that one. The missive, regarding all the questions you may have about "personal writings online," chat rooming, and (snort) Second Life:
***NEW CNN POLICY REGARDING PERSONAL WRITINGS ONLINE***
We've gotten a number of questions from CNN staff wanting clarification of CNN policy on communicating publicly about our work, or on news or public affairs — on the internet. In Blogs. In Chatrooms. On video sharing sites. On social networking sites.
Below are some of the typical questions — and our answers. We hope this is helpful to everyone,
After reading — please don't hesitate to call or email anyone at Standards and Practices if you have further questions. (See contact info below).
MOST IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER:
UNLESS GIVEN PERMISSION BY CNN MANAGEMENT, CNN EMPLOYEES ARE TO AVOID TAKING PUBLIC POSITIONS ON THE ISSUES AND PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS ON WHICH WE REPORT.
The best rule of thumb is, keep in mind whether what you are doing or saying is "in public." In most cases, what you write online is public or can be made public.
CAN I COMMENT IN A CHAT ROOM?
It depends on what you're commenting on. A chat room is, of course, a public place. If you identify yourself, or could in any way be identified, then you should not comment on anything CNN reports on. Remember, even though you don't say who you are, someone else might reveal your identity. AND if you're discussing things that are in the news, keep in mind you could be seen as representing CNN, and therefore you should not comment on the issues CNN covers.
HOW ABOUT MYSPACE, FACEBOOK OR OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES?
Again, on these sites only write about something CNN would not report on. Don't list preferences regarding political parties or newsmakers that are the subject of CNN reporting. Local issues that CNN wouldn't report on would be OK. And of course private communication with friends or family about issues that aren't in the news is fine. If you are not sure, ask your supervisor or S&P for parameters on posting. (S&P contact info is listed below).
Also keep in mind that you should not be commenting or writing about what goes on in the workplace at CNN without specific approval by CNN senior managers. For example, in some cases there have and will be exceptions made to have some staff get information out to an outside audience on platforms like Twitter about our upcoming coverage plans.
But without those approved exceptions, your workplace activity is proprietary and so you should not be writing on these sites about what goes on behind the scenes here at CNN.
CAN I POST MY WORK ON YOUTUBE, PODCASTS OR OTHER VIDEO SHARING SITES?
You should not post any CNN material online unless it is approved. Likewise, if you make a short video on your own time, if there's any question about it being something that CNN might air, first ask someone before posting it. And again, if the subject touches on anything you might cover or CNN reports or may report on, you should likely stay away from it. If it is a close call, ask your supervisor or S&P.
HOW ABOUT SECOND LIFE?
CNN'ers are encouraged to visit Second Life, just keep in mind it's a public place and the same rules (listed above) apply as they would to "real" public life.
CAN I HAVE MY OWN WEBSITE OR BLOG?
Yes. But you should notify your supervisor about it, to have it cleared as a non-conflict for your work. Your supervisor may choose to then have it cleared at another level or by S&P. And again, you shouldn't post commentary on anything you might cover in your work or CNN may report on, or write about the CNN workplace or post CNN material without permission by a senior CNN manager.
WHAT ABOUT FREELANCE EMPLOYEES AND INTERNS?
Supervisors should make sure freelancers and interns read this policy now — or on their first day going forward — and commit to following it.
There you go! Don't get too crazy in the chat rooms. And for the love of God, don't get all uppity on the HuffPo! If only these guidelines had been in existence before Pazienza got canned—who apparently isn't a good fit for this website, either?. Well, who is, really.