Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled emWashington Post/em Editor None Too Happy With Mike Wises Roethlisberger Stunt

Wise made up some news this morning. Just hours later he bragged about how he can get people to print anything, and how he increased his Twitter followers. His bosses sent out a little note, warning him to cut that shit out.


Wise Tweeted that the NFL was going to peg Ben Roethlisberger's suspension at 5 games, rather than the 4 that everyone expected. It didn't exactly sweep the Internet, but it was reported (with attribution and caveats) in a couple of places.

On his DC-area radio show this afternoon, Wise seemed pleased with himself. He made the scoop up, he admitted, to prove some kind of hamfisted point about gullibility or Twitter or something. We get it: the Internet is a lawless no-man's-land, where anyone with a BlogSpot can parrot groundless rumors. It would have been a more effective point had others taken his Roethlisberger news and run with it, instead of just filing it away in the wake of last week's Tim Cowlishaw mea culpa on Darrelle Revis.

The Washington Post sports editor quickly got wind of the mess, for which Wise is being roundly criticized. In an email to the entire sports staff, he reminded writers of the paper's guidelines on social media use, along with a passive-aggressive little intro clearly directed at Wise. We reprint it here:

From: Matt Vita
Sent: 08/30/2010 02:49 PM EDT
To: NEWS - Sports
Subject: Post Guidelines on Use of Twitter, Other Social Media

In case anyone was not aware of them, the Post has guidelines on use
of social media by our journalists. They apply to everyone, including
reporters, editors and columnists in the Sports department. When you use
social media, remember that you are representing The Washington Post, even
if you are using your own account. This is not to be treated lightly. The
same standards that we apply to ourselves in the newspaper, on the website,
on mobile or in any other media platform apply to the world of social
media. Most fundamentally, we need to be accurate. We need to be
transparent. And we need to be fair.
Here are the guidelines. Please call me if you have any questions.


Social networks are communications media, and a part of our everyday lives.
They can be valuable tools in gathering and disseminating news and
information. They also create some potential hazards we need to recognize.
When using social networking tools for reporting or for our personal lives,
we must remember that Washington Post journalists are always Washington
Post journalists. The following guidelines apply to all Post journalists,
without limitation to the subject matter of their assignments.

Using Social Networking Tools for Reporting

When using social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, My Space or Twitter
for reporting, we must protect our professional integrity. Washington Post
journalists should identify themselves as such. We must be accurate in our
reporting and transparent about our intentions when participating. We must
be concise yet clear when describing who we are and what information we

When using these networks, nothing we do must call into question the
impartiality of our news judgment. We never abandon the guidelines that
govern the separation of news from opinion, the importance of fact and
objectivity, the appropriate use of language and tone, and other hallmarks
of our brand of journalism.

Our online data trails reflect on our professional reputations and those of
The Washington Post. Be sure that your pattern of use does not suggest, for
example, that you are interested only in people with one particular view of
a topic or issue.

Using Social Networking Tools for Personal Reasons

All Washington Post journalists relinquish some of the personal privileges
of private citizens. Post journalists must recognize that any content
associated with them in an online social network is, for practical
purposes, the equivalent of what appears beneath their bylines in the
newspaper or on our website.

What you do on social networks should be presumed to be publicly available
to anyone, even if you have created a private account. It is possible to
use privacy controls online to limit access to sensitive information. But
such controls are only a deterrent, not an absolute insulator. Reality is
simple: If you don't want something to be found online, don't put it there.

Post journalists must refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything —
including photographs or video — that could be perceived as reflecting
political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism that could
be used to tarnish our journalistic credibility. This same caution should
be used when joining, following or friending any person or organization
online. Post journalists should not be involved in any social networks
related to advocacy or a special interest regarding topics they cover,
unless specifically permitted by a supervising editor for reporting and so
long as other standards of transparency are maintained while doing any such

Post journalists should not accept or place tokens, badges or virtual gifts
from political or partisan causes on pages or sites, and should monitor
information posted on your own personal profile sites by those with whom
you are associated online for appropriateness.

Personal pages online are no place for the discussion of internal newsroom
issues such as sourcing, reporting of stories, decisions to publish or not
to publish, personnel matters and untoward personal or professional matters
involving our colleagues. The same is true for opinions or information
regarding any business activities of The Washington Post Company. Such
pages and sites also should not be used to criticize competitors or those
who take issue with our journalism or our journalists.

If you have questions about any of these matters, please check with your
supervisor or a senior editor.

NOTE: These guidelines apply to individual accounts on online social
networks, when used for reporting and for personal use. Separate guidelines
will follow regarding other aspects of Post journalism online.

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