The following memo was issued to editors and reporters of the Wall Street Journal on May 14, 2009:
The use of social and business networking sites by reporters and editors of the Journal, Newswires and MarketWatch is becoming more commonplace. These ground rules should guide all news employees’ actions online, whether on Dow Jones sites or in social-networking, e-mail, personal blogs, or other sites outside Dow Jones.
• Never misrepresent yourself using a false name when you’re acting on behalf of your Dow Jones publication or service. When soliciting information from readers and interview subjects you must identify yourself as a reporter for the Journal, Newswires or MarketWatch and be tonally neutral in your questions.
• Base all comments posted in your role as a Dow Jones employee in the facts, drawing from and citing your reporting when appropriate. Sharing your personal opinions, as well as expressing partisan political views, whether on Dow Jones sites or on the larger Web, could open us to criticism that we have biases and could make a reporter ineligible to cover topics in the future for Dow Jones.
• Don’t recruit friends or family to promote or defend your work.
• Consult your editor before “connecting” to or “friending” any reporting contacts who may need to be treated as confidential sources. Openly “friending” sources is akin to publicly publishing your Rolodex.
• Let our coverage speak for itself, and don’t detail how an article was reported, written or edited.
• Don’t discuss articles that haven’t been published, meetings you’ve attended or plan to attend with staff or sources, or interviews that you’ve conducted.
• Don’t disparage the work of colleagues or competitors or aggressively promote your coverage.
• Don’t engage in any impolite dialogue with those who may challenge your work — no matter how rude or provocative they may seem.
• Avoid giving highly-tailored, specific advice to any individual on Dow Jones sites. Phrases such as “Travel agents are saying the best deals are X and Y…” are acceptable while counseling a reader “You should choose X…” is not. Giving generalized advice is the best approach.
• All postings on Dow Jones sites that may be controversial or that deal with sensitive subjects need to be cleared with your editor before posting.
• Business and pleasure should not be mixed on services like Twitter. Common sense should prevail, but if you are in doubt about the appropriateness of a Tweet or posting, discuss it with your editor before sending.