Recently, a veteran Turkish journalist, who for many years has worked at different newspapers both at the employee and management level, wrote on Twitter, "As I couldn't be sure of the credibility of this news, I am sharing this on Twitter only and did not print it in the newspaper."
This statement is enough to point out the problematic situation we're faced with in Turkey and abroad when it comes to journalists using social media. This is not journalism. A journalist's relation with truth and fairness are not limited to the news articles that get printed or published.
It is a sad state of affairs, especially when the general public sees the social media accounts of well-known journalists as viable sources for staying informed. You do not have to take our word for it either. This is the universal standard, though many journalists, in practice, ignore the principle.
To draw a few examples from our previous articles we can quote "Social media use by journalists," published on March 9, 2014. It read: "The Washington Post Social Media Guidelines are very strict in this regard: ‘Social-media accounts maintained by Washington Post journalists - whether on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or elsewhere - reflect upon the reputation and credibility of the Washington Post's newsroom. Even as we express ourselves in more personal and informal ways to forge a better connection with our readers, we must be ever mindful of preserving the reputation of The Washington Post for journalistic excellence, fairness, and independence. Every comment or link we post should be considered public information, regardless of privacy settings'."
It was published in one of our first Reader's Corners. That should give you an idea of the persistence of the problem.
Here is another from "Journalists and social media" published on May 30, 2016, where we focused on a video by BBC College of Journalism.
In the video, Ramaa Sharma, the social media editor for the BBC World desk was asked, "As a journalist working for the BBC, what can we share on social media?"
Her answer was a simple yet encompassing one: "You have to ask yourselves something. ‘Can I say this during the broadcast?' If the answer is yes without any hesitation, then most likely you are good to go. But if you have some reservations about uttering the same remark during a broadcast and believe that what you are about to share would be biased and unprofessional, then do not share that.'"
We cannot just leave behind our journalistic principles and responsibilities as we leave the office at night. It is time to act more responsibly.