Reporters and editors at the New York Times have been told to keep their political affiliations offline and out of sight in the build up to the US presidential election.
A memo received by the New York Observer sent to staff by Craig Whitney, standards editor at the paper, warns journalists that social networks and other websites pose ‘potential political entanglements’:
“When Facebook asks what your political preferences are, don’t answer, and don’t say anything in a blog, video, radio or television program or any other medium that you couldn’t say in the paper or on our Website – about politics or anything else,” the memo says.
An earlier memo from Whitney referred staff to the title’s ethics policy, which states:
“Journalists have no place on the playing fields of politics. Staff members are entitled to vote, but they must do nothing that might raise questions about their professional neutrality or that of The Times. . . They should recognize that a bumper sticker on the family car or a campaign sign on the lawn may be misread as theirs, no matter who in their household actually placed the sticker or the sign.”
A good day for unbiased reporting? A bad day for bumper stickers.