Simons, Margaret: What responsibilities do journalists have on social media?

Margaret Simons

What responsibilities do journalists have on social media?ABC Religion and Ethics, 30 August 2021

Thoughtful piece from a senior journalist and academic. Takes a balanced view of the pros and cons of journalists working on social media – and of what we should expect of them.

Journalists should be participating, in my view, as trusted players — seeking to reach wide audiences and, in so doing, build the social cohesion which is the most important outcome of sharing news and views. I believe responsible participation on social media is part of good citizenship. Journalism is also an act of citizenship, so journalists carry particular responsibility for their conduct …

Twitter, in particular, is not mainstream. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important, or that it doesn’t present a valuable opportunity for journalists when used well. Twitter represents an unusually engaged, highly news-aware part of the audience — or potential audience — for journalism. That makes it a rugged environment, but also productive. The feedback can be scarifying, but educative. Only a small part is truly abusive. The more thoughtful Twitter users are the kind of people that any serious publication would love to have as subscribers.

Includes a link to other material on journalism and ethics, including one to an ABC ‘The Minefield’ broadcast where Simons and academic-TV presenter Waleed Aly discuss the issues. Aly takes an extreme anti-social media position, going out on something of a limb. Simons politely lops off the limb and Aly makes some concessions.

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