BBC Clamps Down On Twitter Use, Tells Journalists Not To Tweet Breaking News

Journalists for the BBC have been told not to tweet breaking news before they’ve filed a story, as it would slow down the process of getting newsworthy stories into the BBC’s newsroom.

As The Guardian reports, the BBC announced its new Twitter rules on Wednesday to ensure that stories are acted on by the BBC quickly, without the delay that sending out a 140 character message would cause.

All of the correspondents, reporters and producers who work for the BBC will now be bound by the no-tweeting rule.

Chris Hamilton, the BBC’s social media editor, explains:

“Being quick off the mark with breaking news is essential to that mission. But we’ve been clear that our first priority remains ensuring that important information reaches BBC colleagues, and thus all our audiences, as quickly as possible – and certainly not after it reaches Twitter.”

The BBC is the latest in a string of news organizations trying to get a handle on how their journalists should use Twitter.

This move to limit the use of Twitter by BBC journalists comes just a day after Sky News issued its own harsh Twitter guidelines, going much further than the BBC, barring its employees from retweeting content from anyone who was not a Sky News employee.

It also follows on the heels of the Associated Press’ third update to its social media guidelines that outlined how journalists should handle tweeting about an error.

It’s not surprising that the stalwarts of old media are reacting to Twitter in this way, but limiting its use might have some unintended blowback. Journalists are building personal brands as well as professional brands when they tweet, and by limiting what they can and cannot post on a social network may cause some to look to less rigid institutions, particularly in the new media sector.