The Tweet below was sent by the BBC’s US State Department correspondent Barbara Plett on January 14th 2016.
Why Ms Plett found it necessary at this time to use her BBC branded Twitter account to resurrect an article unrelated to her field of reporting nearly three years after its initial publication remains a mystery. What is clear however is that the article promoted by Plett is about a study that is by no means “new” and which was shown at the time to be highly controversial.
BBC editorial guidelines on “Personal use of Social Networking and other third party websites” state:
“Impartiality is a particular concern for those working in News and Current Affairs. Nothing should appear on their personal blogs or microblogs which undermines the integrity or impartiality of the BBC.”
BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality state:
“Presenters, reporters and correspondents are the public face and voice of the BBC – they can have a significant impact on perceptions of whether due impartiality has been achieved. Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC output the personal prejudices of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any other area.”
The promotion of a discredited study with distinct political overtones by a BBC journalist would clearly undermine the corporation’s reputation for impartiality at any time. When such promotion is done by a journalist who has already been shown to lack an impartial approach to the subject matter concerned, it is obviously all the more problematic.