In an email sent out to staff yesterday, Sky News has banned its journalists from retweeting or sharing information from any Twitter users who are not employed by the broadcaster, reports The Guardian.
This includes rival reporters, with Sky News employees being told to “stick to your own beat”, and refrain from tweeting about topics that are unrelated to their work from their professional accounts.
“Where a story has been Tweeted by a Sky News journalist who is assigned to the story it is fine, desirable in fact, that it is retweeted by other Sky News staff,” stated the email. “Do not retweet information posted by other journalists or people on Twitter. Such information could be wrong and has not been through the Sky News editorial process.”
The move, which is being widely seen as somewhat draconian, is an unusual move for Sky News, which has developed a reputation as an innovator of digital technology, using Twitter to break many significant news events, including the Arab Spring and London riots.
Sky defended the decision by saying that their goal is “to ensure that our journalism is joined up across platforms, there is sufficient editorial control of stories reported by Sky News journalists and that the news desks remain the central hub for information going out on all our stories”.
Sky News urged staff to “always pass breaking news lines to the news desk before posting them on social media networks.”
While it’s certainly true that we, as consumers of journalism, expect a certain standard of fact-checking and accountability from the mainstream media, banning employees from using Twitter proactively, which includes retweeting and sharing information, seems an entirely backward step from Sky News. And it’s one that will likely have ramifications, particularly if rival news organisations do not follow their lead.
“Sky News has the same editorial procedures across all their platforms including social media to ensure the news we report is accurate,” said a Sky News spokeswoman.
(Source: The Guardian.)