By now I believe my social media mantra is clear. Be smart. If you choose to use social media in any capacity know why, know your purpose and be smart in all you do. I need to extend my “be smart” advice to media that decides to critique social media use.

Saturday morning while curled up under a blanket on the couch and sipping a mug of coffee I scrolled through Twitter on my cell phone.  I saw a Tweet from @DaveWebb that said The Colorado Independent had called out The Denver Post for its use of Twitter.

I immediately clicked the link to the article and read away. (A screen shot of the article is below. I firmly believe the Colorado Independent should correct if not remove the article. If that happens, I want you to be able to read the original) The article, really the editorial, apparently copied and pasted an alleged Twitter conversation the Denver Post had in reaction to a Tweet from Senator Schultheis.

My very first reaction was, “I can’t believe I missed this Twitter conversation! How could I have missed this? I didn’t even know this Denver Post account existed! How did I miss it?”

If I hadn’t known from Dave’s Tweet that he’d left a comment, I would have immediately searched for the Denver Post Twitter account and for those specific Tweets. Instead, I scrolled past the ads at the bottom of the article to read Dave’s comment. It actually took me a minute to process what he said. “This was just a mock-up...”

Without even thinking I moved from my very comfortable couch to go downstairs to the computer to continue looking into the article. I went to The Denver Post article to see for myself. From the article it’s not obvious this is a mock conversation. I can see how people could believe this was an actual Twitter conversation; especially someone who doesn’t use Twitter. Next I searched for a @DenverPost_EdBoard Twitter account. It doesn’t exist.

I found myself in a state of disbelief and even anger. My chest tightened as I realized how wrong author John Tomasic and The Colorado Independent were in these accusations, “This is not really what Twittering is all about. This is overkill. These are the tweets of a dad trying to be cool. Ugh. Colorado. It’s all so embarrassing.”

I walked back up the stairs and re assumed my position on the couch. I sat in silence as I continued to sip my coffee and sort through all of my thoughts. Once I felt I could rationally form a response, I went back to the computer so I could compose my comment.

Days have gone by and just thinking about the editorial and to know it hasn't been taken down or corrected, at the time of this post, frustrates me.  I want to shout in every newsroom, into the ear of every journalist, that Twitter and social media networks are here, are being used, and we in the media need to have an open mind as we try to figure out or role in it or use of it.  Not everyone is ready to use social media.  Those people shouldn't force it or they'll just end up creating a mess for themselves, even a mess for their companies.   

An editorial like this tells me the author, even the media outlet, doesn't truly understand social media yet.  A lack of understanding though is no excuse not to work through the steps to research and verify facts before anything is written. Basic Journalism 101 was completely overlooked.