National Public Radio (NPR) has issued a memo to its staff reminding them that no matter what the temptation is for using social media to report on the elections today, they need to refrain from injecting any personal opinions into their tweets and posts. NPR doesn’t want it to appear that they are favoring one side or the other on what could be a historic day.
As news about the midterm elections comes in Tuesday, many of us are going to be using social media to share updates and pass along interesting bits of information. It’s going to be particularly tempting to post about turnout, about what other news outlets report from exit polls and about the results of key races as they’re “called” by one media outlet or another.
That’s all fine. But please keep in mind that what you tweet or post is going to be perceived as coming “from” NPR.
The first rule of the day is simple. Just as “there’s no cheering in the press box,” it’s not appropriate to cheer (or boo) about election results on social media.
After that, this previously issued guidance applies:
“Tweet and retweet [and post] as if what you’re saying or passing along is information that you would put on the air or in a ‘traditional’NPR.org news story. If it needs context, attribution, clarification or ‘knocking down,’ provide it.”
The important context includes making clear what information is coming from NPR and what is from other credible news outlets.
Throughout the evening, our Elections Desk will be following the AP’s lead as races are called — though there may be moments when the desk decides to issue a “stop” order and not follow AP’s decision to declare a winner. Along with NPR.org, of course, the places where NPR-produced reporting will show up include @nprpolitics on Twitter and the NPR Facebook page.
This is nothing but a CYA move by NPR to try and give the public the impression that they are committed to being fair and impartial, despite their long history as a liberal network.
Nice try, but I’m not buying it.