Reuters issued their social media policy to employees yesterday, and the one thing that’s attracting the most attention is a policy that news should be broken on Reuters.com, not on Twitter:
As with blogging within Reuters News, you should make sure that if you have hard news content that it is broken first via the wire. Don’t scoop the wire. NB this does not apply if you are ‘retweeting’ (re-publishing) someone else’s scoop.
The policy also notes that Reuters employees should have the word “Reuters” in their Twitter user-name and all tweets from that account should be professional, not personal. Facebook and Wikipedia are also briefly discussed, but the breaking news element is quite interesting.
For a while now, reporters have been scrambling to break news first. on Twitter websites, blogs, or anywhere possible. Embargoes are almost entirely a thing of the past (according to TechCrunch they already are the past), and some companies are breaking their own embargoes on Twitter.
So why is Reuters opposed to reporters breaking stories on Twitter?
Quite simply, reporters that have a large, intense Twitter presence are able to turn themselves into a brand, while Reuters and other media outlets want the company to remain the strongest brand. When Bloomberg took over BusinessWeek and sent a significant number of journalists packing, it was the well-known visible people who were laid off. Reuters’ social media policy is meant to keep their reporters reporting factual and reliable news, instead of participating in a second-by-second race to break every last little piece of news.