Tim Davie, the new BBC director-general, has issued a warning to staff to clean up their use of social media in his introductory speech to the organisation.
Speaking to staff, Davie said that in the coming weeks the organisation would be introducing new rules on social media use that would be “rigorously enforced” and warned that anyone who wants to be an “opinionated columnist” or “partisan campaigner” should “not be working at the BBC”.
Davie’s tightening of the rules on staff’s social media use is part of the new director-general’s plan to heal the BBC’s reputation of impartiality in the face of sustained criticism levelled against the organisation.
During his speech, Davie outlined four priorities for the BBC including renewing the organisations “commitment to impartiality”.
Explaining why he was pushing for new rules on the use of social media, Davie said:
“This trust extends across the world. In a recent study we were the most trusted news brand for Americans, ahead of all major US news brands. In the age of fake news, social media campaigns, echo chambers of opinion, and noisy partisan media outlets, this, surely, is our time.
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“But while we do many things right, I do hear questions about whether due impartiality is deliverable, even desirable, in these more polarised, divergent times. Importantly, it is not simply about left or right. This is more about whether people feel we see the world from their point of view. Our research shows that too many perceive us to be shaped by a particular perspective.”
BBC director-general reaffirms commitment to impartiality
The BBC needed to “champion and recommit” to impartiality Davie said, adding that it was deliverable and desirable in the current polarised political environment to do so. He added that while some may “worry” impartiality could be dull, the BBC’s finest work is “exhilarating, passionate and ground-breaking”.
The director-general added that this push for impartiality did not mean “abandoning democratic values such as championing fair debate or an abhorrence of racism”, but was rather about ensuring the BBC was free from “political bias, guided by the pursuit of truth, not a particular agenda”.
He added: “We need to explore new ways of delivering impartiality. Seeking a wider spectrum of views, pushing out beyond traditional political delineations and finding new voices from across the nation. We have begun this work but we can go further.
“I want staff to spend much more time outside the BBC listening to those who pay for us.”
As part of new plans for impartiality, new training will be delivered across the BBC “to explore the tough, but interesting dilemmas that the modern world presents”.