Sky News clampdown on Twitter use ‘misreported’

Mark Stone, the Sky News reporter, has denied ordering journalists not to post links to rival websites on Twitter.

The Guardian reported last month that an internal memo had been circulated advising journalists not to retweet rival “journalists or people on Twitter”. The email also advised employees to “stick to your own beat” and not to tweet about personal matters.

The email said: “1. Don’t tweet when it’s someone else [sic] story. Stick to your own beat. 2. Always pass breaking news lines to the news desk before posting them on social media networks.”

In The Press Gazette yesterday Stone said that his Twitter guidelines had been misreported. He said: “It’s very straightforward: if you’ve got a breaking story the first thing that we would do is to ring the newsdesk, which takes 20 seconds, and then tweet – rather than tweet and then ring the newsdesk. That’s for a big breaking story when you’ve got an exclusive line.”

Many online publications wrestle with these same questions, though most have been more careful about keeping their internal discussions private. Last year when the furore over superinjunctions raged, Twitter was awash with discussions of Ryan Giggs’s affair but most journalists employed by mainstream media outlets were silent as they were under strict instructions not to mention the matter.

Still, many newspapers believe that they provide a valuable service to Twitter by fact-checking before publishing information. During the London riots last year Twitter saw a proliferation of spurious claims about where riots were taking place, with tweets about gangs making their way down suburban streets where there was no rioting at all. Even this is being challenged however, and news is coming to be accepted from internet sources that throughout the last decade were regarded as unreliable. In 2009 TMZ broke the news of Michael Jackson’s death, which was verification enough for most major TV stations across the United States.

The Guardian has special projects editor said that his publication’s attitude to Twitter is more relaxed.

“The Guardian probably has a more progressive policy than most on this, I’m glad to say. Usually it’s fine for us to tweet the first time we see or hear something that we think is significant, and you wouldn’t be scorned by the newsdesk for doing that.”

Source: Press Gazette

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