Digital Publishing Guidelines


E-mail alerts, social-media postings, and other digital news reports based on non-Post reporting should clearly attribute the information to its specific source. Consideration should also be given to whether some qualification of the information should be included—for example, a notation that the report could not be independently verified, or that we are in the process of attempting to verify the information.

Articles and blog postings

Attribution in articles and blog postings should be done through linking and text, if possible. Simply adding a link is not acceptable attribution. The site that is linked should be spelled out. Also, if the source is not a well-known media outlet, give a brief description in the attribution language. When linking is not possible, attribution alone is acceptable.

EXAMPLE: “The arrests were first reported in a Dallas Morning News article on March 1.”

E-mail alerts

As a general rule, e-mail alerts should begin with the attribution. For example:

Subject (headline): AP reports John Smith to drop 2012 bid

Body: According to the Associated Press, U.S. Representative John Smith will not seek re-election in 2012.

By contrast, after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot, NPR and CNN reported that she had died. We sent out an alert saying, ‘Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has died after being shot in the head by a gunman, according to NPR and CNN.” It would have been preferable to have said, “CNN and NPR are reporting that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has died after being shot in the head by a gunman.”

Social media

Social-media postings based on reporting by others should also begin with the attribution, and they should include appropriate qualifications if necessary. For example:

AGGREGATE: @washingtonpost AP reporting John Smith may be out of 2012 race. Details: LINK

RETWEET: RT @NASA NASA Endeavour’s launch has been scrubbed for at least 48 hours because of an issue with Auxiliary Power Unit 1 heaters.

VERIFY: @washingtonpost: Seeing several Twitter reports that Osama bin Laden has been killed; national security desk working to verify.