Sky's Mark Stone says Twitter policy was 'misreported'

Sky News reporter Mark Stone has said that the broadcaster’s Twitter guidelines were misreported last month – leading to claims that journalists were banned from posting links to rival websites.

Stone, who has around 23,000 followers on the social networking site, said: ‘It’s very straightforward: if you’ve got a breaking story the first thing that we would do is to ring the newsdesk, which takes 20 seconds, and then tweet – rather than tweet and then ring the newsdesk.

‘That’s for a big breaking story when you’ve got an exclusive line.”

Reports claimed Sky News had told its told journalists not to repost information from any Twitter users who are not an employee of the broadcaster.

‘That was the bit that was misreported,’Stone told Press Gazette’s News on the Move conference at Thomson Reuters. ‘Someone’s got the wrong end of the stick. We’re perfectly allowed to retweet… the point that got missed is you can’t retweet a breaking line from somebody else without verifying that it’s true.

‘If Bill Neely writes an article, or there’s something I think is interesting, I’m perfectly able to retweet that.”

Stone said he uses Twitter purely for news-related Tweets and uses Facebook to post messages about his personal life.

Paul Lewis: ‘To tweet or not to tweet’

Meanwhile, Guardian special projects editor Paul Lewis also gave an insight into The Guardian’s policies on Twitter, which he described as ‘quite long’but ‘quite flexible”.

‘It’s a variation of calls that journalists have been making for decades,’he said. ‘The dilemmas that you have are different now and probably happen a lot faster, but to tweet or not to tweet is hot water that lots of journalists have got themselves into.

‘The Guardian probably has a more progressive policy than most on this, I’m glad to say. Usually it’s fine for us to tweet the first time we see or hear something that we think is significant, and you wouldn’t be scorned by the newsdesk for doing that.’

He urged journalists to see Twitter as the beginning of the news gathering process, adding: ‘The first thing is short and sharp and true, but as things go on you manage to provide more and more context… you tell the reader what you’re seeing, then there’s a picture, maybe later on an Audioboo and they hear your voice, and maybe the next day a 2,000 word detailed, contextualised story.

‘I think that they value that in its entirety. You’ve taken them with you, I think you have a different relationship with the reader if you’ve done that than if you’ve just provided them with one of those elements.”

The Guardian, said Lewis, recognised that Twitter fell into a ‘slight grey area’because it was often used both personally and for work. ‘Actually I think that’s key to its success,’he said. ‘It’s social media – and social is the word there.

‘If you’re monosyllabic and only talk about one thing, and are quite corporate in the way you interact with people on social media, you won’t be very successful

‘Equally, I agree completely that people aren’t that interested in what I had for breakfast…”

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk

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