Gannett employees received this memo Tuesday morning from CEO Gracia Martore:
Gannett Social Media Policy
These guidelines are an important addition to Gannett’s existing employee policies, including the Gannett Ethics Policy, the Principles of Ethical Conduct for Gannett Journalists, IT Security Policy and Standards, and Gannett’s harassment, and workplace conduct policies. The existing policies all speak to different issues employees should keep in mind when interacting with each other – both on and off the job – as well as with customers, vendors, members of our audiences and the general public.
Social media is an important part of how we, as a company, communicate with the public, our consumers, and with advertisers both present and prospective. Social media is also an important part of the lives of our employees, providing an environment where they interact with family, friends and personal communities. In fact, social media is transforming every aspect of society and is proving to be an enormous opportunity for Gannett overall, and for journalism specifically. Social media provides a mechanism to better understand and serve our local communities and to enhance and improve our journalism. It is core to our strategic goal of reinventing local journalism in the digital age.
This policy speaks to how employees should conduct themselves and comply with other company policies in the social media environment. Although nothing in this policy prohibits or interferes with employees’ rights to communicate with work colleagues about terms and conditions of employment, social media accounts should not be used to comment inappropriately on the work of others or about Gannett.
As a Gannett employee, your use of social media should comply with the following standards:
* Refrain from writing or posting anything that could compromise Gannett’s reputation as a trusted source of news and information. The ability of our customers and the general public to rely on Gannett as a trusted source for news and information is vital to our company. This is our business integrity.
* Assume that all of your activities on a social media site are public, regardless of the privacy tools you may use, and exercise discretion in sharing personal information, and political, cultural or religious views./CONTINUES
* Never represent yourself as a spokesperson for Gannett unless you are authorized to do so. If Gannett, its products or its people are the subject of content you are posting, be transparent about the fact that you are an employee of Gannett and/or your operating unit, and make it clear that your views do not represent the views of Gannett and/or your operating unit, or its employees.
* Periodically review the Gannett Ethics Policy, including the portions relating to the use and disclosure of confidential company information. You are expected to maintain the confidentiality of Gannett’s trade secrets and private or confidential information. Trade secrets may include information regarding projects you or others are working on, news content that has not been published or approved by news managers, products, financial information, know-how and technology. Do not post internal reports, internal business-related communications, or communications known to be protected by an attorney-client privilege.
* Do not post comments that include discriminatory remarks, harassment, threats of violence or similar content.
* Do not engage in conduct, whether in the social media environment or otherwise, that adversely affects your job performance, the job performance of your fellow employees, or the interests of our customers.
Violation of Gannett’s Social Media Policy is a serious matter and may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
Employees whose position or responsibilities require regular interaction with the public, government or business officials, or others in the community in such a way that they are seen as speaking for or on behalf of Gannett should exercise particular caution. These positions can include publishers, sales representatives, corporate communications and marketing professionals. If you are unsure about your role, please contact your manager.
These employees may easily be perceived as representing Gannett while off-duty. For this reason, these employees should be careful when making statements that might be viewed as controversial or political in nature. They should also exercise discretion when friending or liking other individuals or groups to avoid any actual or perceived conflicts.
In addition to the guidelines set forth above, Gannett journalists should always abide by the Principles of Ethical Conduct for Journalists in their use of social media. These Principles are centered on the following themes:
-> Seeking and reporting the truth in a truthful way
-> Serving the public interest
-> Exercising fair play
-> Maintaining independence
-> Acting with integrity
* Be transparent in social media; always make clear that you work for Gannett or for your local Gannett news organization.
* Consider that the content you post is public and should meet the same standards as information you publish or broadcast on Gannett platforms. Never post anything you would not be willing publish or broadcast. If you make a mistake, acknowledge your error and correct it as quickly as possible. Avoid oversimplifying or sensationalizing issues; place your thoughts in context.
* Remember that social networks are forms of public expression and should be used for strategic reasons to enhance your journalism, engage your community of followers, enlighten your news outlet’s audience, and promote your news organization’s brand in a positive way. Like other forms of public expression – attending political demonstrations, voicing opinions on a talk show, making political campaign contributions – they are subject to the limitations that are placed on newsroom employees through the Principles of Ethical Conduct. These are designed to maintain credibility with the reader.
* Properly attribute your content and link to the original source if possible. Respect others’ copyrights.
* Ensure that your public conduct – on and off the job – does not undermine your credibility with the public or Gannett’s standing as a fair and impartial source of news.
* While news staffers are encouraged to develop a public personality, that personality cannot cast doubt on the individual’s or the organization’s impartiality.
* Be sure to respect confidentiality of colleagues and sources. Ask permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal.
For more detailed guidance, see the Social Media Guidance for Newsrooms.
Note: These rules do not apply to the Editorial board or critics and columnists whose job it is to provide commentary.