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Three Venues and One Responsibility

Here is commonsensical advice for reporters who go on television or radio or do live chats.

· Don't say anything live you would not write in the paper. Don't speculate without a sound basis in fact.

· Don't try to be ironic or sarcastic; it's always misinterpreted. Humor only works if it's light and at no one's expense but your own.

· A relaxed manner is good for chats, but watch you don't come off as unprofessional.

· You're a reporter for a top-notch outfit. Act like it.

Post journalists are always under the microscope and at an open mike in this new world of round-the-clock news and opinion. I found that out to my dismay when I uttered an unprintable word at a gathering of newspaper people in Minneapolis and found it on a blog within 24 hours and posted on a popular media Web site in another 48. Lesson learned.

Though the media and the management may be different, and though the Web site and radio may operate at a faster pace and a more informal tone than the newspaper, the Post brand is important and needs to be protected by all who work for it.

Deborah Howell can be reached at 202-334-7582 or atombudsman@washpost.com.


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