The line between Social Media and Traditional Media is gradually being obliterated. Not because these two are almost becoming one and the same thing, but by virtue of the fact that social media elements are being assimilated into traditional media platforms and vice versa.
Initially, major media outlets had been suspiciously looking at the growing influence of social media networks, perhaps hoping this would be another time-bound fad.
But the phenomenal uptake of social media and the massive incorporation of its elements in every day life has meant that any credible media outlet, ignoring the need to embrace this new dynamic in news consumption, would be doing so at its own peril.
At first, the main media house plunged head on into the social media terrain, hoping to capitalise on any inherent advantages and probably not giving much thought into the possible dangers posed by this action.
But upon realisation that it is just not goodness that oozes from the social media juice, many a traditional media outlet had a rethink and naturally sought to come up with formal rules to guide the use of social media elements.
Futility of Social Media Policy
And off late, there has consequently been a flurry of social media guidelines being crafted and serious attempts to enforce a company approved online interaction policy.
This I believe is necessary, but only to the extent of ensuring there is some form standardised approaches that are close to a media company's overall ideals or values.
But I think it will be an exercise in futility for a media house to imagine that its social media guidelines will fully restrict, especially its journalists, from straying into uncomfortable territories that could 'embarrass' the company.
This is mainly because there is no escaping an ever present possibility of conflict, first because it is difficult for journalists to differentiate between their professional and personal lives, as far as the use of social media is concerned
And secondly, Internet-based interactions demand such a high degree of openness and transparency that a traditional media house would cringe at, given the sometimes deep and even clandestine dalliance with external forces and pressure from funders, state agencies, politicians or commercial entities.
So yes. No policy can fully police social media.