It's Time to Update Twitter

16.02.2012, Newsroom

BBC journalists have been told not to break news stories on Twitter before they tell their newsroom colleagues, The Guardian reports. The news rules were announced last week after it was revealed that Sky News had told its journalists not to repost information from any Twitter users who are not an employee of the broadcaster. 

The new social media guidelines for BBC journalists are intended to ensure that stories are fed into the BBC's newsgathering machine as quickly as possible — ahead of making them public on Twitter. 

Chris Hamilton, the BBC's social media editor, said: "Our first priority remains ensuring that important information reaches BBC colleagues, and thus all our audiences, as quickly as possible – and certainly not after it reaches Twitter […] when [BBC's correspondents, reporters and producers] have some breaking news, an exclusive or any kind of urgent update on a story, they must get written copy into our newsroom system as quickly as possible, so that it can be seen and shared by everyone."

BBC is "fortunate to have a technology that allows our journalists to transmit text simultaneously to our newsroom systems and to their own Twitter accounts," he added.

Sky News launched the trend among British news agencies in restricting journalists' social media use: on Feb. 7, it announced a ban on retweeting rival "journalists or people on Twitter". 

The new guidelines also warn Sky News journalists to "stick to your own beat" and not to tweet about non-work subjects from their professional accounts.

For news agencies in Armenia, however, Twitter doesn't play such a large role: the situation is different here. The local news outlet most active on Twitter is Panarmenian.net, which has three accounts (one each for publishing news in Armenian, Russian and English) as well as an additional account connected to Facebook.

"Panarmenian's social media policy is a little different; in our [social media] accounts, we publish a wider range of news than those on the website. That is, if there's a subject that we don't cover on the site, we publish it on Facebook and Twitter — from entertainment news to announcements of local events," says head of Corporate Affairs and Communications at PanArmenian Media Arpiné Grigoryan.

When reporting on urgent news, PanArmenian journalists don't tweet directly from the scene. First, they report to the editors then the editor or social media coordinator shares the news via the company's official Twitter account. Through their personal Twitter handles, the journalists mainly share links to their articles or short messages from an event.

During important events where the story is developing there's also a Twitter widget on Panarmenian.net, which displays Twitter updates in real time on the website.

Also active on Twitter is local news site Epress.am. It has one account through which it tweets only its headlines in English and Armenian — no additional comments are offered by the staff.

Epress.am editor Armen Melikbekyan says rarely do journalists tweet on site and only when there's a previous agreement with the editorial team. 

Another local news outlet, A1+, doesn't encourage its staff to tweet independently. Only the editor tweets and only if necessary. The agency's official account only tweets headlines with links to its site. 

Media expert Samvel Martirosyan, in an article "Twitter for News Agencies: Enjoy It While You Can," argues that its time for news agencies in Armenia, apart from using Facebook, to begin using Twitter.

According to him, there is still the issue of branding for news agencies and journalists in Armenia. "For editors to encourage their reporters to tweet while on the scene and to make journalists be sought after and read because of who they are means to make them close to and identified by readers. It means to take another step from those who 'like' you on Facebook to loyal readers," he writes.

Nvard Hovhannisyan

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