Impartiality on Platforms: The Politics of BBC Journalists’ Twitter Networks

Tom Mills*, Killian Mullan, Gary Jonas Fooks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research shows the prominence afforded to political actors in BBC journalism strongly reflects the balance of power in Westminster, with major political parties, and the ruling party in particular, tending to predominate. This article examines the extent to which these patterns of news access and exposure are also evident in BBC journalists’ following of and interactions with MPs on Twitter, using data from 90 BBC journalists’ Twitter accounts (extracted in February 2019). We find that MPs from centrist parties have the highest average number of BBC journalist followers, and are interacted with and mentioned more by BBC journalists than other MPs. MPs in parties exclusively representing constituencies outside of England are the least followed, mentioned or interacted with. Of the two main political parties, Conservative MPs have the highest average BBC following, and are mentioned more often. Current and former Cabinet members have a higher BBC following and more interactions and mentions than their Shadow Cabinet counterparts. Our findings confirm that elite patterns of news access and exposure have been reproduced on new platforms. Though lending support to claims that the BBC is orientated towards the political centre, they suggest more of an orientation towards the Right than the Left.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-41
Number of pages20
JournalJournalism Studies
Volume22
Issue number1
Early online date2 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Journalism Studies on 2 Dec 2020, available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/1461670X.2020.1852099

Keywords

  • BBC
  • MPs
  • Twitter
  • bias
  • impartiality
  • political journalism

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