Social media as a medium is designed to learn and share. But it appears that a leading publishing daily like The Hindu is having difficulty in understanding this.
Last week, The News Minute had revealed that The Hindu has issued a social media norm that advised employees must try to refrain from sharing stories of other publications on social media platforms including Twitter.
The News Minute stated that, “A mail sent to some of The Hindu employees by Managing Editor P Jacob and Senior Managing Editor V Jayanth says that there is a need to use social media responsibly.” The mail further said, “With the growing presence and salience of the social media and increasing market competition, it has become imperative to underline the importance of responsible use of social media platforms including Twitter by all journalists of The Hindu.”
Though there isn’t a copy of the mail but The News Minute informs that after talking about responsibility the mail informs the employees that sharing content of other publications especially of competitors is in ‘poor form’ and ‘preferably avoided.’
“It’s ridiculous, and obviously some warped ‘wisdom’. The Hindu’s Malini Parthasarathy has been regularly tweeting links to stories from other media till a short while ago, before this ‘wisdom’ dawned,” informed Anant Rangaswami, Editor at CNBC-TV18.
However, B. G. Mahesh, Founder and MD at Oneindia shares that official publications’ accounts not sharing articles from competing publications on social media is understandable but restricting journalists not to do so is restrictive. “We at Oneindia have no such policy and shouldn’t have. All I can say is we have to strive to publish better articles by which each of our journalists would be inclined towards sharing Oneindia articles instead of the one from competing media house.”
Similar thoughts on official publication accounts not sharing articles from competing publications on social media as understandable were echoed by Dhanya Rajendran, managing editor at The News Minute. However the dictate of applying the same for its staff is regressive, she said. “What is wrong if a journalist in his or her personal capacity wants to share information? This is the age of dissemination of information; journalists break stories on social media. In other countries news organizations even report on and link stories done by others openly. No media organization can afford to live in a time warp anymore.”
The mail further warns or let’s just say cautions employees that by sharing stories they should not end up doing a ‘favour to the competition’. “We need particularly to ensure that in our enthusiasm and urge to participate in an on-line discussion or debate, we do not end up doing a favour to the competition. When a person identifies himself/herself or is known as a journalist of The Hindu, even when it is made clear that the views or actions are one’s own, balance, restraint and sobriety will be expected to be observed in online conduct and expression.”
Before ending the mail it also makes a point to share that Hindu is not the only publication that is asking for such culture but the same is also being followed by other media organizations who do not encourage their journalists to tweet links from competitors.
Can you apply such dictates in today’s world?
As Anant puts it, Hindu’s thinking in today’s world that only media companies are its competitors is really simplistic and old school. “Today’s competitors are bloggers, individuals on twitter, ‘buzz’ sites, RSS feeds, social media updates, not to forget Google itself.”
Hindu’s official social media profiles may follow the culture but dictating it to its employees not only shows its inability to understand the medium but also its regressive nature. Besides summing up that all other media houses follow the same thought process is completely baseless.
There are so many journalists on Twitter that are followed by millions not just because they cover amazing stories at their publication but also because of they curate interesting stories from other fellow journalists or publications. “Ironically, Ms. Parthasarathy is someone I follow on twitter. I do so because she is an interesting curator of many of the subjects dear to me, including journalism, freedom of the press, grammar, style, and so on. Her eclectic and varied tastes in her reading saved me the trouble (and it would be considerable) of reading all that she reads. Would links she tweets out make me lose my interest in her or in The Hindu? On the contrary – each time I read and appreciate a link she tweets out, it enhances my respect for The Hindu,” Anant said.
Besides, is Hindu going to keep a check or have a team of people to scan through the social media accounts of its employees? I don’t see this happening at a time when print is anyways being challenged with every passing day.
It is the massive insecurity that has forced Hindu to come up with such an amazing idea, shared Madhu Trehan, Content Editor & Talk Show Host, Newslaundry.“Any news organisation that warns journalists about tweeting other news groups’ stories only exposes that they really do not understand the digital space and a massive insecurity. We all know what happened to dinosaurs .”
True! we all know what happened to dinosaurs and we definitely don’t want that to happen to the publication that has been running the show since 1878.
Sachin Kalbag, Editor at Mid Day who is also quite popular on Twitter for his curation sums it up well. ” I do not agree with that circular. I think it is anachronistic. Twitter is a platform for open discussion, regardless of one’s affiliations. This (The Hindu’s) view on social media interaction runs counter to that philosophy. “
The Hindu, please stay ahead of the times!
Image credit: i.haymarket.net.au