Breaking news reports and social media guidelines

Last year the BBC issued social media guidelines whose stand out message seemed to be “don’t do anything stupid”.

But the Corporation’s not unreasonable suggestion to news staff who use the likes of Twitter may have been only partially heard, and today the BBC published some “refreshed breaking news guidance”.

These singled out the microblogging network to emphasise that it should be the priority of correspondents, reporters and producers to send information first to their BBC colleagues.

The BBC’s social media editor Chris Hamilton writes: “When they have some breaking news, an exclusive or any kind of urgent update on a story, they must get written copy into our newsroom system as quickly as possible, so that it can be seen and shared by everyone – both the news desks which deploy our staff and resources (like TV trucks) as well as television, radio and online production teams.”

The guidance comes just one day after Sky reaffirmed its own social media rules – banning breaking news on Twitter without first checking with the news desk and also governing who news staff can retweet.

Though Sky’s rules may seem overzealous, but it and the BBC’s take on how to approach journalists’ use of social media are right to affirm the primacy of the newsroom.

If a journalist thinks more of their own social media standing than of their news organisation’s position then they’ve lost sight of why they started using social media in the first place.

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