The Washington Post prides itself on being politically objective, as the chronicler of all things D.C. this is an important asset. In the dull and antiseptic world of American broadsheet journalism this is actually regarded as a good thing. The free-wheeling world of Twitter has proven to be a bit of a 140 character release for the hacks who have revealed their true colours in pixel form. The managing editor of the Post, Raju Narisetti, tweeted his support for Obama’s socialising of medicine and scepticism about the cost of America’s wars. In doing so he it seems compromised the hallowed “objectivity” of the paper.
The Post has responded to the furore with new guidelines:
“Post journalists must refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything – including photographs or video – that could be perceived as reflecting political racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism that could be used to tarnish our journalistic credibility.”
Thankfully the only media organisation in the UK that pretends to “objectivity” is the BBC. The BBC’s untold legion of twitterers do so on a superficially private basis, their bio’s all say that their views are their own, not those of the BBC, even when their Twitter feed is promoted on the BBC.
So why then when the BBC’s Robert Preston cracked a few off-colour jokes about the Royal Wedding did the BBC insist he remove them? He joked about the happy couple’s sex life and Her Majesty’s close relationship with her horses. Seems to Guido that the BBC are having it both ways; Pesto’s views are private, but if they are too controversial the BBC will insist on censoring them. That is just not credible. Either tweets are the personal views of BBC employees or they should comply with BBC guidelines. Which is it to be?
Guido doesn’t believe that Washington Post or BBC journalists can really be totally impartial, so they shouldn’t pretend to be, it is dishonest journalism to pretend otherwise. This of course presents existential problems for a taxpayer-funded broadcaster…