The Newsroom

New BBC social media guidelines

Bans on 'virtue signalling', criticism of colleagues & breaking stories on own accounts

NT
Night Thoughts London London
A big part of the problem is that people take a single tweet from somebody like Laura K which simply reports, accurately, what somebody has said and use that to launch a pile on about supposed bias while ignoring the other tweets from her reporting what others with opposing views have said.


The BBC has largely dug this hole for itself by encouraging correspondents to provide NON-STOP ANALYSIS all the time, day in, day out, on social media, instead of doing what senior broadcasters do best which is to provide a careful, considered analysis. The written word can be taken out of context, it hangs around and can haunt you. Broadcasting is a medium that provides context and individual lines don't live long in the memory.

Here's a case in point (I'm not asking anyone to start discussing this, it's just an example):




If you're Nick Robinson, you're probably thinking that "wartime leader" is a vivid, pithy line. It's a good one for a telly package.

On social, particularly out of context, and possibly depending on your already-formed views of Johnson/Robinson, it could look like an admiring comment that would be inappropriate for a senior broadcaster.

(Again, I'm not asking for this to be discussed, I'm merely using it as an example - there are countless more like it.)

Plus you now have the issue of "client journalism" - political corrs simply being used to disseminate attack lines on social, particularly those from anonymous sources. Which all goes back to the editors' demands for NON-STOP ANALYSIS.

They're human, they can't do everything, and demanding they pump this stuff out on social all the time as well as broadcasting is killing the reputation of many.

While many of these guidelines are common sense, I'd hoped - particularly with Richard Sambrook behind it - that these guidelines would address how the BBC uses Twitter, rather than setting staff up to fail. Instead, they seem to have dodged the issue. We'll be back here in six months' time, if not sooner.
BF
BFGArmy Channel Channel Islands
Indeed ‘the trans issue’ quote really doesn’t paint the BBC in the best light there - it makes them look at best ignorant and almost makes it sound like BBC think trans people are a problem.


A big part of the problem is that people take a single tweet from somebody like Laura K which simply reports, accurately, what somebody has said and use that to launch a pile on about supposed bias while ignoring the other tweets from her reporting what others with opposing views have said.


While that is true, I don’t think Laura helps herself at times by using Twitter seemingly as her own personal notepad and she at times seems to tweet without thinking how the tweet might come across to others and considering the veracity/context of who the source is which she really should as a political editor.

I can’t help the following points in the new guidance particularly apply to her:
“BBC platforms are your priority, even if it takes slightly longer”
“ Being “seduced” by the informality of social media – “Your posts about news events and issues require careful thought and editorial discipline”
Last edited by BFGArmy on 30 October 2020 1:00pm
NT
Night Thoughts London London
Indeed ‘the trans issue’ quote really doesn’t paint the BBC in the best light there - it makes them look at best ignorant and almost makes it sound like BBC think trans people are a problem.


A big part of the problem is that people take a single tweet from somebody like Laura K which simply reports, accurately, what somebody has said and use that to launch a pile on about supposed bias while ignoring the other tweets from her reporting what others with opposing views have said.


While that is true, I don’t think Laura helps herself at times by using Twitter seemingly as her own personal notepad and she at times seems to tweet without thinking how the tweet might come across to others and considering the veracity/context of who the source is which she really should as a political editor.

I can’t help the following points in the new guidance particularly apply to her:
“BBC platforms are your priority, even if it takes slightly longer”
“ Being “seduced” by the informality of social media – “Your posts about news events and issues require careful thought and editorial discipline”


That's how most political journalists use Twitter. I don't think it's wise these days, but she's hardly the only one and it's curious how she's singled out so often.
SS
SuperSajuuk Central Reporting Scotland
I saw all this online last night but its been more than 12 hours and I still have no idea how this solves anything. If anything, it encourages journalists to abandon their social profiles for fear of breaking some rule. The fact that high ranking presenters such as Huw Edwards made fun of the new rules shows how semi pointless it is and solves very little.

I agree some of them misuse twitter and those who do should receive warnings about it, but no one forces anyone to follow these accounts. If people don't like what Laura or Vicky or whoever else at the BBC writes on these platforms.... don't follow them? I find the information that is posted on their twitter accounts to be useful because they are usually precursors to actual stories and hourly analysis is important for me specifically.

I don't see what the BBC has to gain from these kind of rules but lots to lose with the younger generation who exclusively only use social media profiles to get their news. The vitriol that some staff get, like Laura K, is ridiculous, petty and almost always way over the top.
bkman1990 and Universal_r gave kudos
BF
BFGArmy Channel Channel Islands
Indeed ‘the trans issue’ quote really doesn’t paint the BBC in the best light there - it makes them look at best ignorant and almost makes it sound like BBC think trans people are a problem.


A big part of the problem is that people take a single tweet from somebody like Laura K which simply reports, accurately, what somebody has said and use that to launch a pile on about supposed bias while ignoring the other tweets from her reporting what others with opposing views have said.


While that is true, I don’t think Laura helps herself at times by using Twitter seemingly as her own personal notepad and she at times seems to tweet without thinking how the tweet might come across to others and considering the veracity/context of who the source is which she really should as a political editor.

I can’t help the following points in the new guidance particularly apply to her:
“BBC platforms are your priority, even if it takes slightly longer”
“ Being “seduced” by the informality of social media – “Your posts about news events and issues require careful thought and editorial discipline”


That's how most political journalists use Twitter. I don't think it's wise these days, but she's hardly the only one and it's curious how she's singled out so often.


It’s true she’s not the only one but as the BBC political editor she is more high profile and has greater responsibility as a result than most so she gets more of the attention as a result. ‘The Daily Mirror political editor does it’ doesn’t cut the mustard as a defence really.
I don’t just think it’s her though that gets criticism - Peston too gets a lot of criticism for much the same reason. And I really do dislike the style too of reporting too - rather than just reporting every single thing blindly instead tweet less and provide the key info that you have verified.

I think both Peston and Laura get criticised also as they do seem lightweight as political editors and to lack gravitas. Really these last few years BBC and ITV have needed political editors with a bit more bite to them.
AN
all new Phil Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
I think Twitter has cheapened BBC News somewhat. I get that there is a huge audience there, but I don’t think it should be used as a channel for the delivery of news by the BBC, either directly or indirectly through individual reporters’ tweets. It’s poisonous, and I think it would be better if the BBC focussed on its own app, channels and shows rather than trying to be everywhere.
NT
Night Thoughts London London
Indeed ‘the trans issue’ quote really doesn’t paint the BBC in the best light there - it makes them look at best ignorant and almost makes it sound like BBC think trans people are a problem.



While that is true, I don’t think Laura helps herself at times by using Twitter seemingly as her own personal notepad and she at times seems to tweet without thinking how the tweet might come across to others and considering the veracity/context of who the source is which she really should as a political editor.

I can’t help the following points in the new guidance particularly apply to her:
“BBC platforms are your priority, even if it takes slightly longer”
“ Being “seduced” by the informality of social media – “Your posts about news events and issues require careful thought and editorial discipline”


That's how most political journalists use Twitter. I don't think it's wise these days, but she's hardly the only one and it's curious how she's singled out so often.


It’s true she’s not the only one but as the BBC political editor she is more high profile and has greater responsibility as a result than most so she gets more of the attention as a result. ‘The Daily Mirror political editor does it’ doesn’t cut the mustard as a defence really.
I don’t just think it’s her though that gets criticism - Peston too gets a lot of criticism for much the same reason. And I really do dislike the style too of reporting too - rather than just reporting every single thing blindly instead tweet less and provide the key info that you have verified.

I think both Peston and Laura get criticised also as they do seem lightweight as political editors and to lack gravitas. Really these last few years BBC and ITV have needed political editors with a bit more bite to them.


It's not a defence, it's context. I think the way most Westminster journalists use Twitter has been deeply harmful - as a platform, it rewards all the wrong behaviour and journalists get caught in up in that as much as someone sat on the sofa with their iPad on their anonymous @backourboys138131 or @jc4pm323423 account. Obviously Kuenssberg has a higher profile, but she does get a disproportionate amount of criticism. But without a stronger framework for what she and other BBC journalists are expected to provide on Twitter, if at all - and these guidelines aren't it - this situation is just going to continue.

(That said, Peston should have his smartphone thrown in the canal and replaced with a brick.)
AndrewPSSP and Jonwo gave kudos
NT
Night Thoughts London London
I think Twitter has cheapened BBC News somewhat. I get that there is a huge audience there, but I don’t think it should be used as a channel for the delivery of news by the BBC, either directly or indirectly through individual reporters’ tweets. It’s poisonous, and I think it would be better if the BBC focussed on its own app, channels and shows rather than trying to be everywhere.


I've got some sympathy with this. I think Twitter has a purpose for pointing people to the BBC News website and other BBC products; it has a use during breaking news stories too. But beyond that it's just feeding a monster.

I don't think people appreciate how Twitter has changed in the 12 or so years since the BBC started using it, and how the architecture of the site has encouraged different (arguably more harmful) behaviour to encourage heavier interaction and to keep people on Twitter without going elsewhere - just as Facebook has done.

Back then, it was 140 characters - short, snappy updates. Little room for ambiguity in messages that short.

Now it's flabby 280 character updates, with the ability to thread tweets so you can drone on to your heart's content. Why craft a 1,000-word blog post for your employer (that someone can check for you and give you some feedback on) when you can give all that content to Twitter for free?

The introduction of the "like" button, which so many are addicted to, even though it is asking for trouble. Even this month, we've seen the retweet function change so it automatically gives you a dialogue box to add your own half-witted comment. And people are successfully nudged into doing it.

Twitter's become a very clammy, cramped and unpleasant place. It's also one with very little regard for the welfare of its
users.

I think it would be harmful for the BBC to pull out entirely, but it should certainly do less there and think what it gets out of it, rather than feeding a rival's platform.
JO
Jonwo
I honestly think people would be much happier if they cut their social media consumption to a minimum. Would neuter the likes of Piers Morgan or Peston but that's not a bad thing.
SP
Steve in Pudsey Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)

(That said, Peston should have his smartphone thrown in the canal and replaced with a brick.)


Thanks. I have visions of the weatherman from Anchorman replacing Peston now.
Write that down in your copybook now.
PE
Pete Founding member North Reporting Scotland
A big part of the problem is that people take a single tweet from somebody like Laura K which simply reports, accurately, what somebody has said and use that to launch a pile on about supposed bias while ignoring the other tweets from her reporting what others with opposing views have said.


I've said for years the issue with Laura K (aside from the fact she's a woman and therefore will inevitably get criticised more) is that she isn't as good "at twitter" as she thinks she is. There are a lot more journos who are much more "very online" can can navigate the nonsense better than her.
ELM 2011: I am sick of been persicuted by you immature TV Forumers!
MD
mdtauk London London
I think the thing that really shows up what these social guideline changes are really about, is the use of the term "virtue signalling" - which is used by those on the Right to call out people who vocalise their opinions or support for issues in society.

It is mostly used by the right against issues of progressive or optimistic issues.

Looking at the opposite view, the Left are prone to call out "dog whistling" for someone vocalising support and opinions for right wing viewpoints like Racism, and conservative values.

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