In January, the New York Times' standards editor issued guidelines about how editorial staffers are allowed to use Facebook and other scary online tools. Is reporter Twittering making a mockery of those guidelines? Let's explore!
Key warnings from the the guidelines, from standards editor Craig Whitney:
Be careful not to write anything on a blog or a personal Web page that you could not write in The Times — don't editorialize, for instance, if you work for the News Department. Anything you post online can and might be publicly disseminated, and can be twisted to be used against you by those who wish you or The Times ill — whether it's text, photographs, or video. That includes things you recommend on TimesPeople or articles you post to Facebook and Digg, content you share with friends on MySpace, and articles you recommend through TimesPeople. It can also include things posted by outside parties to your Facebook page, so keep an eye on what appears there. Just remember that we are always under scrutiny by magnifying glass and that the possibilities of digital distortion are virtually unlimited, so always ask yourself, could this be deliberately misconstrued or misunderstood by somebody who wants to make me look bad?
He's talking about us! Although we wish everyone well. We hear that the paper may be cracking down on Twitter use by staffers soon. So now's the time to look at some the NYT's most prolific Tweeters! Not surprisingly, most of them are prolific reporters, as well, and just can't stop writing things, every minute of every day. It's truly amazing.
Dealbook wonder boy Andrew Ross Sorkin's is livelier, but still disappointingly uncontroversial. Lots of live-tweeting and extra Dealbook-like commentary.
Young media obsessive Brian Stelter is an outrageous link-Tweeting machine. Truly incredible. Not too controversial, though. You work too much, Brian!
Finally, King of All Media David Carr is wild with the Twitter! He Twitters whatever he wants! Maybe enough to give Craig Whitney palpitations? It's all so charming, though! He has a big personality! Fight the power!
So overall there's not much that we would find scandalous there (more drunk Twittering from the whorehouse, people, thx), but probably enough to make Craig Whitney want to tell people to be quiet. Keep an eye out for a sudden NYT clampdown on newsroom Twittering. Then everything can get back to boring again.
[Disclosure: I'm Facebook friends with Carr and Stelter, hopelessly compromising my objectivity.]