Pacific Media Watch

28 April 2015

AUSTRALIA: Educators call for clear social media guidelines

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MELBOURNE (Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia/Pacific Media Watch): The Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA), as a body representing academics teaching the next generation of journalists, believes the sacking of SBS sports journalist Scott McIntyre over a series of tweets regarding the ANZAC commemoration again highlights the need for greater guidance for journalists over social media.

Journalist Scott McIntyre ... controversial tweets on SBS account. Image: SBSMany have noted MacIntyre made his comments on an account that promoted his work for SBS, a public broadcaster.

However, JERAA supports an educational approach to journalists embroiled in such public speech controversies.

JERAA notes that social media platforms are new communicative spaces that provide for rapid, reactive individual publishing with little or no editorial oversight.

In these rapidly evolving environments the personal interests and professional roles of journalists are merging - requiring all reporters, regardless of their specialization, to undergo advanced workplace training in online communications law and social speech expectations.

Publishing organisations must also recognise that social media protocols alone do not serve to clearly regulate this self-publishing, and indeed are as Human Rights commissioner, Tim Wilson, has recently argued  “a grey area” of employment contract.

Thus for the regulatory enforcement of social media policies to have best effect, they must be accompanied by training, mediation and counselling.

In the interests of protecting free speech principles, and journalists’ interests in social media innovation, JERAA calls for improved workplace training in social media speech, together with considered handling of public speech controversies and breaches of social media guidelines.

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