A late July memo from USA Today Sports Media Group senior editor Steve Henson:
Subject: Social Media sourcing rules
Ahead of our conference call today at 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT, here are bullet points on USAT social media sourcing rules. These apply to all O&Os [all USA Today Network properties]:
* Two-source rule. While posts on social media channels may provide good leads and share news and information the public cares about, we still proceed with caution. Reputable news organizations, including our own, have been burned by hoax reports. For that reason, we treat social media sourcing with great skepticism and should seek at least one additional source before pushing out an alert. This guidance especially applies to news that involves a reputation or other high-stakes information, such as reports that might influence financial markets.
* Notice the signs. On high-profile accounts, look for the blue check-mark badge, which indicates the page has been authenticated. If you don’t see the badge, there’s good reason to raise questions about the identity of the account holder. A low number of followers may also be a clue that you’re not seeing an official account.
* Be transparent, always verify. If multiple social media accounts from sources are tweeting the same information, we can make clear where our information is coming from as we work to independently verify.
* Weigh level of trust. We may also consider a single source from a trusted content partner, such as the AP, if the stakes are low and we’ve determined we’re unable to match it. This is a judgment call to be made by a senior editor.
If you’re ever uncertain about a decision to send an alert, please raise the concern with a senior editor.
Again, call-in info for the upcoming meeting: 719-XXX-XXXX