Monday, May 09, 2011

Press watchdog looks to regulate journalists' Twitter activity

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) is to begin a consultation which could result in it regulating journalists’ and newspapers’ Twitter feeds.

woman looking at Twitter website
Journalists could be monitored on Twitter by the PCC. Photo: ALAMY
The PCC is assessing whether journalists’ and newspaper Twitter feeds just should come under its remit and be considered as part of the newspaper’s editorial content.

The move would significantly increase the PCC’s remit and would be the first time the media watchdog had included any form of social media content under its jurisdiction.

Many journalists working for a newspaper or media organisation say that they are tweeting their own thoughts and not their employer’s, but Iain Connor, a partner at media and entertainment specialist law firm Pinsent Masons, said this defence was weak.

“I think given the interest [in most journalists’ Twitter feeds’] is likely to arise because of their journalist profession, it would be difficult to argue that they are genuinely tweeting in a personal capacity and that’s probably the reason why the PCC is considering this extension to its remit.”

He added: “I think we might find that the PCC is being proactive by considering this extension in order to prevent wider regulation [of the media’s expression on Twitter] which would be more prohibitive.”
The PCC’s plan is to try and separate out a journalists’ public and private tweets. All newspaper’s official Twitter feeds are expected to be fully regulated.

According to The Guardian the PCC wants every newspaper to create a ‘Twitter policy’ which lets every reporter know which accounts are considered to be part of its editorial output.

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