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NUJ calls for urgent meeting with BBC bosses over new social media rules

THE National Union of Journalists (NUJ) called for an urgent meeting with BBC bosses today over concerns about the broadcaster’s new social-media guidelines to staff.

New rules were set out on Thursday as part of a set of instructions and guidance, alongside new training, aiming to “ensure the highest possible standards of impartiality across the organisation,” according to the broadcaster.

The rules tell staff that they cannot reveal how they voted or express support for political parties, and ban the expression of views on any policy currently in political debate or on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or any other “controversial subject.”

Journalists have been told not to support campaigns such as through the use of hashtags on social media “no matter how apparently worthy the cause or how much their message appears to be accepted or uncontroversial.”

The guidance adds: “Use of emojis can — accidentally, or deliberately — undercut an otherwise impartial post.”

Today, BBC director-general Tim Davie clarified that new impartiality guidelines would not prohibit them from attending Pride parades following some media reports suggesting that they would.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said that the union had sought an urgent meeting with the corporation to address their members’ concerns, warning that the changes could “constrain individuals’ ability to meaningfully participate and engage in issues that matter to them.”

Ms Stanistreet welcomed the new boss’s announcement on Pride, adding “that the clarification proved necessary shows that further clarity is needed.”

“It’s disappointing that there was no consultation with staff unions on these changes ahead of them being announced, and we’ll be raising all the concerns NUJ members and reps have shared with us when we meet the BBC.”

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