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September 15, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:35am

BBC journalists’ social media use ’cause for concern’ says DG as new rules to come into force

By Freddy Mayhew

The new BBC director general has said journalists’ use of social media is a cause for concern when it comes to impartiality, which he said was a “bedrock” for the corporation.

Tim Davie, who took over as head of the corporation this summer, confirmed that new social media guidelines would be issued across the BBC in the coming weeks, with a specific set of stronger rules for journalists.

“I do think the bar is higher for current affairs and news,” Davie said.

He said he would not ban BBC journalists from using social media, but that the new guidelines would be about “making sure what people are doing on social media is helping us” in terms of maintaining impartiality.

The corporation’s impartiality is highly prized and is seen as crucial in maintaining levels of trust in the era of fake news.

The BBC is the most trusted news organisation in the UK and the US, according to surveys carried this year by the Reuters Institute and Ipsos Mori.

But it has come under fire over its failure to call the result of the 2016 EU Referendum and a Tory landslide at the general election in December last year. Its Brexit coverage has been criticised by both sides of the debate.

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Press Gazette asked if Davie considered journalists’ use of social media to be a cause for concern at the moment as regards BBC impartiality.

He replied: “Yeah, it is a cause for concern because impartiality is the bedrock for the BBC.

“It is utterly critical that looking forward people have total trust for the BBC and it is not seen as an organisation that is any way biased.” Davie said bias was not just about the political left or right.

He added: “When you join the BBC you leave your party politics at the door.”

The BBC’s complaints unit recently found a tweet by Europe editor Katya Adler and an opening on-air monologue by Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis breached its impartiality rules.

Picture: Reuters/Kacper Pempel/Illustration/File Photo

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