The Front Page: Social media policies

It’s Friday, May 20th.

When Politico leaked the drafted Roe v. Wade decision earlier this month, other newsrooms rushed to share stories with their readers — and social media policies with their staffers. 

At Axios, Charlotte Klein reports that managers took a decidedly different stance than the one they offered in 2020. Whereas the company’s chief executive Jim VandeHei encouraged employees to participate in protests following the murder of George Floyd (even offering to pay bail for staffers who were arrested protesting), VandeHei now insists that employees must refrain from expressing any opinion on the matter, even when “their values or identity are under attack,” in order to protect the company’s perceived trustworthiness.

Journalists employed by NPR, Scripps, and Gannett, among other newsrooms, were similarly instructed to maintain neutrality by withholding opinions on Roe. Each newsroom statement further illuminates the contradictions inherent in the way personal views are regulated through the lens of political objectivity. 

At the same time, journalists’ continued labor through devastating, deeply personal news cycles has revealed that, unfortunately, altruism alone is unlikely to usher in industry-wide change.

Instead, it may be beneficial for newsroom managers to consider the possibility that prohibiting workers from publicly acknowledging their “values or identity” makes it impossible for them to properly serve audiences.

When managers ask journalists to check their values and identity at the door, they often do so with the hopes of appeasing the vocal minority that perceives them as biased. This exercise in appeasement is not only dishonest, but it also prevents newsrooms from connecting with a majority of their available audience. 

If our current framework of objectivity requires centering wealthy, white men in power, then we should make the definition more inclusive or abandon the rationale so many of the aforementioned policies rely on.

— Holly Rosewood


COMMITMENT

A Bit More Media

BuzzFeed News Union secures contract — After a more than two-year battle, the BuzzFeed News Union has ratified its first contract. The five-year agreement reportedly guarantees a minimum salary with annual increases, safeguards against nondisclosure agreements in harassment and discrimination cases, and protection from working in haunted offices.

“Racially charged” — A number of newsrooms are incorrectly reporting that recent racist, violent attacks are “racially charged” or “motivated.” The Associated Press (which is by no means infallible) recommends journalists “avoid racially charged, racially motivated or racially tinged, euphemisms which convey little meaning.” 

Shireen Abu Akleh — It’s not up for debate: Israeli forces killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11. Still, as Sarah Hagi writes, many Western media outlets are reporting that Abu Akleh simply died during a raid while forces exchanged gunfire. Journalists and other eyewitnesses who were with Abu Akleh report no Palestinian fighters were present when she was shot. 

San Francisco Standard’s standards — This week, the Bay Area newspaper published a piece that perpetuates xenophobic stereotypes and advocates for outdated drug war policies. As Peter Calloway and Alec Karakatsanis explain, the bothsidesism employed in the article is not only unfactual but serves as PR for local law enforcement and anti-immigration politicians.  

“Stop apologizing without action” — Dacia Mitchell, the former Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at KQED, has post-resignation advice for organizations and leaders interested in DEI work: “Without your deep, personal commitment to changing your newsrooms, your policies, and your practices, your organizations will die, and rightfully so.”

TIME to walkout —TIME magazine’s editorial union is ready to walk out for a fair contract on May 23. For three years, the union has been at the bargaining table fighting for fair pay, a ban on metrics, and better mental health support, among other protections. Supporters can help by signing the union’s petition before the walk out.


 WHAT’S HAPPENING? 

Stay Up To Date 

6 days until … Why LGBTQ+ journalism is important in 2022. This seminar, featuring five journalists, is open to both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ people working in any journalism-related role.

13 days until … Health Equity: Aging and Health Care Disparities in Indigenous Communities. The Association of Health Care Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association host this virtual roundtable.

14 days until … the Latino Media Summit. ($$$) Registrants can attend this two-day event virtually or in-person at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism in New York. The Summit features workshops, documentary screenings, networking sessions, and more.

What else should we feature? You tell us. Send an email to [email protected].


AND FINALLY 

A few more resources

Looking for a job? Here are a few places to look: INN | ONA | JournalismJobs.com | 10 Jobs and a Dog | NABJ | AAJA | NAHJ | NLGJA | @WritersofColor | MEO Jobs | Freelance Journalist Rates | Source Jobs | Opportunities of the Week ($)   

How about a style guide? Trans Journalist Association | Diversity Style Guide | Tribal Nations Media Guide | NABJ Style Guide | Disability Language Style Guide | AAJA Guide to Covering Asian Pacific America | NAHJ Cultural Competence Handbook |  SPJ Race & Gender Hotline | AMEJA Media Resource Guide

Want to get in touch? Email us at [email protected].

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If you like what you read, we could use your support. Your contribution will go directly to our writers, editors, and any fees required for us to operate. 

Thanks for reading. We’ll have more for you soon. 

This issue is by Holly Rosewood with editing by Curtis Yee.

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