Richard Sambrook to review BBC’s social media use

Richard Sambrook to review BBC’s social media use

Richard Sambrook

A former director of global news at the BBC is reviewing how the company maintains impartiality on social media.

The BBC has commissioned Richard Sambrook, currently director of journalism at the University of Cardiff, to review the online behavior of programs and staff.

Professor Sambrook, who has worked for BBC News for 30 years, will examine whether impartiality guidelines are being respected on platforms such as Twitter.

The review was commissioned prior to this week’s Emily Maitlis controversy.

The BBC said: “As part of our work on fairness, we are looking into the use of social media internally and some time ago we asked Richard Sambrook to have an independent view of us.

“This is in its early stages and we have no further details at the moment.”

Sambrook will look at how programs like Question Time and News use social media.

Such programs often share clips edited in isolation on their feeds, without the background or context provided in the complete broadcast program.

  • What can BBC presenters say and not say?

The BBC editorial guidelines state: “Impartiality is at the heart of the public service and is at the heart of the BBC’s commitment to its audience.”

Earlier this week, the BBC stated that Newsnight’s opening monologue, delivered by Emily Maitlis, did not meet impartiality standards.

Maitlis said the country was “shocked” by the government that could not see that Boris Johnson’s adjutant Dominic Cummings had broken the rules by traveling from London to County Durham during the coronavirus blockade.

He added that the “public mood” was “one of anger, contempt and anguish” and that the program would consider the implications of the prime minister’s “blind loyalty” to his adviser. A clip of his monologue went viral online.

In 2018, Gary Lineker was criticized by fellow sports presenter Jonathan Agnew for expressing his views on Twitter.

“Maintain your political views, whatever they are and whatever the topic, for you,” Agnew said, but Lineker replied that he could “tweet what he likes” and continue to do so.

However, Lineker works for the company as a freelancer. Since he does not work for BBC News, he is not subject to the same guidelines as journalists.


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