RTDNA publishes new online journalism guidelines

February 5, 2010

Social media and blogs are important elements of journalism. They narrow the distance between journalists and the public. They encourage lively, immediate and spirited discussion. They can be vital news-gathering and news-delivery tools. As a journalist you should uphold the same professional and ethical standards of fairness, accuracy, truthfulness, transparency and independence when using social media as you do on air and on all digital news platforms.

                        Preamble to RTDNA’s new Social Media and Blogging Guidelines


The Radio Television Digital News Association released its new Social Media and Blogging Guidelines for journalists on Feb. 3. These build on the RTDNA Code of Ethics written in 2000. These new guidelines are meant to spark discussion and adoption of new ethical guidelines in newsrooms – and journalism classrooms—across the country.

RTDNA's Social Media and Blogging Guidelines have three areas of consideration:

            Truth and Fairness

            Accountability and Transparency

            Image and Reputation

In each area, there are overall guidelines, points of discussion and questions for your students or newsroom staffs.

“These guidelines will be instantly valuable in just about every newsroom across the country,” said RTDNA Chairman Stacey Woelfel.  “I can guarantee that anyone reading the new guidelines has already dealt with at least one of these issues.  Now there is a way to weigh your editorial decisions regarding social media and blogging.”

Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute led the group. Read his comments here.

The release has already created considerable discussion among professional journalists. We hope you will discuss these professional guidelines with your students.  


  • Why was each guideline needed? 
  • Which guidelines should you adopt for your student journalists?
  • Which guideline would your students have the most trouble following?
  • What other guidelines would you add?
  • How is a journalist different from any other blogger or social media poster?
  • How do these guidelines interact with First Amendment Rights and Responsibilities?

To offer suggestions, questions and continue the discussion, go to the HSBJ  Forums.  Click on Teachers Lounge and see the topic  Ethics: RTDNA Social Media and Blogging Guidelines.