Can professional journalists be twusted to tweet? The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times don't seem to think so: the Journal recently handed its staff a detailed new set of guidelines governing "online activities," while the Times hired a "social media editor" whose job includes (but isn't limited to) policing employees' Facebook and Twitter output.

Old-media stodginess? Panicky overreaction? Not at all, says Alan Murray, executive editor of The Wall Street Journal Online. At a panel discussion on the future of media today, held at NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and sponsored by I Want Media), Murray attempted to put a common-sense spin on his paper's Web 2.0 policies:
That memo was a revision of a memo that has come out every 10 years since the beginning of time. And the basic message is: Don't be stupid. If you cover the Supreme Court, you probably shouldn't tweet that you're going to an abortion-rights rally. If you cover politics, you probably shouldn't tweet that you just voted for John McCain. If you're Bob Woodward and you're going to meet Deep Throat in the garage, you probably shouldn't be tweeting about it.

The problem is when you have a big organization like The Wall Street Journal, inevitably there are a few people who do stupid things, and then there's another group of people who feel that if there are a few people doing stupid things, they have to try to codify stupidity. And that's what that memo's about.
Murray also responded to comments by his boss, Journal managing editor Robert Thomson, who compared Google and other aggregators to "tapeworms in the intestines of the internet," robbing the true content producers of their hard-won ad revenues. While allowing that Google ought to try harder to steer traffic to sites that break news rather than those that merely re-report it, Murray acknowledged that WSJ.com is unlikely to wall itself off from the search behemoth anytime soon: "We're crack addicts, too. We like the traffic."

And speaking of Twitter, Daily Finance's Anthony Massucci managed to corral chairman and co-founder Jack Dorsey for a one-on-one interview after the panel. See what he had to say here.

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