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Thursday, 21 May 2009

The BBC and Twitter feeds

Yesterday at Media140, Darren Waters, the BBC's technology editor told us that the Corporation double checks individual tweets published on official BBC Twitter feeds. (All thirteen regular readers of this blog would have known about double-checking Twitter in this manner a couple of months ago.)

According to Waters, the BBC regards personal Twitter feeds in the same way that they regard personal blogs. The BBC's editorial policy on blogging allows journalists to keep personal blogs as long as they have a disclaimer, do not reveal confidential information and do not jeopardise the BBC's commitment to impartiality.

(Might be worth noting that various personal BBC Twitter feeds currently don't have a disclaimer like the one on Waters' own).

Technology commentator Bill Thompson provocatively challenged Waters by stating that Twitter was "fatally undermining any pretence of objectivity" at the BBC. To which Waters rather obscurely replied "Yes" and "No".

After all, while I wouldn't suggest Rory Cellan-Jones' Twitter feed breaks any of the BBC's guidance in a detrimental manner, the line between 'personal' and 'official' is pretty difficult to make out.

Rory clearly uses it do journalism in his official role as a BBC technology correspondent, but this feed presumably is not classified as an 'official feed' and he often writes more personal updates.

Actually, I don't think there's too much of a problem here, but it still represents a fairly fundamental shift in the way BBC journalists operate.

Waters admitted that the BBC still hasn't "cracked it" in terms of editorial policy and that there are ongoing internal discussions about the use of social media.

More from journalism.co.uk here.

Update
: And another journalism.co.uk reporter asks Mark Thompson about the issue.

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