The Los Angeles Times building at First and Spring streets downtown. LA Observed photo.
A pre-election memo from managing editor Marc Duvoisin reminded Los Angeles Times reporters and editors to keep their personal opinions about politics out of their stories. And, perhaps especially, their tweets and Facebook posts.
This isn't the first time this election cycle that Times management has felt the need to state the obvious. But it came a day after the LAT broke off its relationship with South Korea-based freelance reporter Steven Borowiec, following a tweet in which he replied to a Time magazine photo gallery of Donald Trump's life with the quip, "I would rather see Donald Trump’s life end."
Borowiec quickly deleted the tweet and said it was posted in jest, but it got picked up all over, especially in pro-Trump media outlets.
"Borowiec’s tweet was a violation of the organization’s professional standards, and The Times has ended its relationship with him," the paper said in a statement. The Times has been using his reports from Asia over the last three years.
Duvoisin's email to the staff came a day later.
From: "Duvoisin, Marc"
Date: November 4, 2016 at 10:52:55 AM PDT
Subject: Important message on social media and political opinions
As we enter the final days of the presidential campaign, it’s important for all of us to keep our personal opinions out of our news coverage.
That includes social media. When you post or participate in discussions on Facebook, Twitter or other platforms, you are making a public statement as a Los Angeles Times journalist, and what you publish reflects on all of us.
If you’re not a columnist or an Opinion writer whose job is to express political opinions, please don’t do so on social media. Tweeting out news stories about the campaign is fine. Adding commentary or venting your personal feelings is not.
Similarly, re-tweeting negative stories about only one of the candidates creates the appearance that you – and by extension The Times – have an agenda. We don’t have an agenda, and we don’t want to create an impression to the contrary.
If you’re in doubt as to whether a particular tweet or Facebook comment would be appropriate, don’t post it. Or ask for a second opinion before posting.
This is a longstanding policy, not a new one. If you have any questions, please consult your editor or review the newsroom ethics guidelines or the social media guidelines.
Duvoisin sent out a similar email in July, writing then "this is a longstanding policy, not a new one.