BBC Journalists Commanded To Use Social Media

    February 10, 2010

Journalists who work for one of the most respected news organizations in the world will be making greater use of social media from now on.  Peter Horrocks, the BBC’s director of global news, has more or less ordered his reporters to become comfortable with sites like Twitter.

As reported by Mercedes Bunz, Horrocks stated in an internal BBC publication, "This isn’t just a kind of fad from someone who’s an enthusiast of technology.  I’m afraid you’re not doing your job if you can’t do those things.  It’s not discretionary."

Horrocks then continued, "If you don’t like it, if you think that level of change or that different way of working isn’t right for me, then go and do something else, because it’s going to happen.  You’re not going to be able to stop it."

Don’t be surprised if BBC articles start quoting people who answered questions via Facebook, then.  Or it’s possible that important announcements made on Twitter will be incorporated into headlines.  Neither of which is at all a bad thing, as long as the BBC’s fact-checking remains up to snuff.

There is one detail that makes Horrocks’s command a bit ironic, though.  Almost exactly one year ago, Horrocks used Twitter to discuss some promotions with a colleague.  The problem was, his messages were public instead of private, so unsuccessful applicants didn’t receive any sort of proper notice.  Other media organizations had a fair amount of fun at his expense.