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Did you change your Facebook photo?

August 10, 2015

More than 26 million people changed their Facebook profile photo after the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision. Were you one of them?

 

If you work for a journalism organization, you shouldn't have.

 

Adding the rainbow overlay may seem like a fun or innocent thing to do, but it carries a heavy price. The price of chipping away at the public's trust.

 

We, as journalists, should deliver objective information. And our readers need to trust us.

 

Yes, we have our political and religious opinions, but our code of ethics declares that we be aware of our bias and ensure it doesn't taint our stories. And that we don't take a public stance on political issues.  

 

The credibility of news organizations continues to decline, in part from perceptions of bias.

 

How can you argue that you are objectively reporting the news if you change your profile picture in support of gay marriage? Or concealed carry laws? Or in support of immigrant amnesty? Or against? 

 

Don't forget that what you do reflects on your company. How can a newspaper, website or broadcast station tell it's audience that contains fair and balanced content when social media is littered with employee's faces with a rainbow overlays?  (I would argue that goes for all employees -- inside and outside the newsroom.)

 

Social media is a powerful personal and professional tool. And it's easy to get caught in the emotion of major news stories. But ask yourself first if it's worth further eroding your crediblity with the public? 

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