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Best of NABJDigital: Should Journalists Be Required to Use Social Media?

Editor’s note: we are off this week, so we’re re-posting our most popular columns.  This column was originally published Feb. 16 after the BBC issued an edict that all of its journalists would be required to use social media as part of their jobs.

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

I am the mother of a very precocious 4-year-old.  She is smart and is very strong in her opinions and what she will — and will not — do.  I learned early on if I wanted to get her to do something, I had to either make it seem like her own idea or offer some incentive that will lead her to where I want her to go.

Which is why I read a Mashable post on changes at the BBC with interest.  Peter Horrocks, the new director of BBC Global News, recently announced that all the company’s journalists will have to embrace social media or move on.   “This isn’t just a kind of fad… I’m afraid you’re not doing your job if you can’t do those things. It’s not discretionary,” he said according to an interview in the Guardian.

For the record, I happen to agree with Horrocks on the need for journalists to embrace social media. I’m just not sure issuing a broad edict is the way to go.  I am an old-school journalist who has embraced these tools enthusiastically.  But not everyone is like me, and there are a lot of people who do things the old way that are very resistant to this kind of change.

The article doesn’t say whether BBC will offer training and a transition period for its journalists.  I hope it does both, because it is much more likely to entice workers to do what needs to be done to embrace and see the possibilities of social media.  BBC can reach its goal much better by making journalists a part of the solution.

What is your company’s policy on using social media?  Does your company offer training?  If not, what have you done to include social media in your work process?  Tell us in the comments section.

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Home of the National Association of Black Journalists's (NABJ's) Digital Journalism Task Force

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