By Steve Outing
As I mentioned the other day, Facebook has taken over LinkedIn as my primary social network for business. Within just the past couple weeks, many of my contacts in the new media world have invited me or I’ve invited them to be Facebook friends. I sense a shift in many people toward Facebook, and more and more people are using it as a business networking tool, not just a social one.
The key difference between my presence on LinkedIn and that on Facebook is that on Facebook you’ll see some personal information about me — for example, that I’m politically liberal, am a fan of Sam Harris, and worship at the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find vacation pictures from my family’s trip to the Galapagos earlier this year. On LinkedIn, you won’t learn any of that; my personal beliefs are hidden there, and my presentation there is objective, non-partisan, and non-religious. It’s a glorified and interactive career resume.
Some journalist friends and colleagues are fretting about this mixture of personal and business on Facebook. Shouldn’t journalists, especially, they say, hide their personal beliefs and biases in order to retain an air of being objective? Won’t revealing personal preferences damage their credibility as journalists?
OK, I’m not doing much journalism these days, so perhaps I can get away with revealing my leftward tilt. I do still write a monthly column about interactive media, but I often allow myself to express opinions there (though not about politics). So I don’t have the same perspective as, say, a reporter for the New York Times.
But I can’t help but feel that in this digital, networked age, journalists should loosen up. Through Google, Technorati, et al I can probably (easily) dig up some personal information about that NYT reporter. As a reader, I’d like to know more about the journalists whose work I read. I think that’s a good thing.
Perhaps more journalists should reveal some of themselves on Facebook. Looking through my list of news industry contacts who are on my Facebook friends list, I’m learning a few personal things about people that I didn’t know before. I think that’s pretty cool.