This week, The Shorthorn had a number of great stories based on original reporting — stories that reflect critical thinking, a strong sense of the campus, and a commitment to accuracy. These stories build your credibility with readers and your sources because they show a commitment to capturing life on campus right now in a way that no other news source can. Social media adds a layer to that, and, when used well, can enhance that sense of credibility among your audience.
When used without care, social media can erode that credibility with the tap of a finger. Here’s how:
- Retweeting or sharing information that you have not independently verified makes you responsible for that information. It’s seen as an endorsement, not as sharing information. That’s different than your personal use of social media. The Shorthorn has a place for its opinion, or house voice. That place is in clearly labeled editorials.
- The Shorthorn’s reputation and ability to share information with a community quickly cements it as an official source of that information in a crisis situation. Sharing information on social media, especially during a crisis situation, indicates to readers who are trying to find answers that The Shorthorn has fully vetted the content as it would any other content it publishes.
- Sharing the opinions of social media users is a selective process. As a gatekeeper of information, The Shorthorn retains its responsibility of fairness and balance in how it shares information on social media. Sharing, to us, is the equivalent of publishing a print edition or a story on www.theshorthorn.com — it means seeking out varying opinions, not just those that suit the situation.
Our best practices for social media are outlined in our department’s Social Media Policy. The bottom line: Be the best version of yourself online. For The Shorthorn and its official social media feeds, that applies. The best version of our publication is to strive daily to be accurate, fair and balanced. Apply that to your social media use in all situations.
Tapping “share” on a hot take is easy. Maintaining your integrity takes work. Let’s work hard.