The group editorial director of News Ltd, Australia’s biggest publisher, says that the company is “very uncomfortable” with its journalists using Twitter to tell followers news.
In an interview with today’s Media section of The Australian, Campbell Reid says:
“It’s our belief that journalists who work for us who have news to tell should do so through the vehicles they are employed to supply material for. We’re very uncomfortable with staff tweeting in a professional sense under their own names, for a whole bunch of reasons, not the least of which is legal protection and concern about what is published.
“Like so many things that burn so brightly on the internet, we’re watching to see how it goes. We don’t want to spend a lot of time developing policies … and in three months’ time everyone’s realised it’s another way of having fairly boring conversations.”
As well as The Australian, News Ltd’s publications include The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, The Herald Sun in Melbourne, along with The Courier-Mail in Brisbane. It also publishes news.com.au and the newly-launched opionion site The Punch, where the whole editorial team is on Twitter.
Indeed, many journalists employed by News Ltd do have Twitter profiles. Dave Earley, of the Courier Mail, has published a directory of journalists on Twitter that includes more than 100 News Ltd staff.
Reid comes from a print heritage, including a stint as editor of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. He is probably most infamous for sending a dead fish to The ABC’s Media Watch.
Although his comments come within a piece by Sally Jackson which is broadly positive about the use of Twitter as a journalistic tool, The Australian has previously expressed scepticism about Twitter. Earlier this year, a leader comment from the newspaper predicted Twitter would fail. And the newspaper later returned to the issue, with an essay on why it would not replace newspapers.
News Ltd is owned by News Corp, which is also the parent company of social networking site MySpace.