Who Owns A Journalist’s Twitter Account? BBC Loses 60,000 Followers To ITV
To Succeed at media these days you have to build personal brand via social media. It is all part of the job. Many journalists and broadcasters leverage the traditional publications and news channels they work for to help build that brand and amass Twitter followers and the smart employers allow them to do so. They share their Twitter name on air, encourage users to ask them questions via that medium and it all helps grow audience online that can feed back in to the traditional media. That is all well and good when the journalist or broadcaster stays with the one media organization but a new case has shown the tensions that could emerge when employees move between different news organizations…
Laura Kuenssberg, who was the BBC’s chief political correspondent has just been poached by ITV a rival broadcaster. She had built up a large following of over 60,000 followers over the last couple of years working for the BBC and her Twitter account was called BBCLauraK but as soon as she joined ITV that was quickly changed as you can see below…
Who Owns The Twitter Account?
The way things are set up at the moment she was perfectly in her right to change the name because it was her own personal account. It wasn’t written in to her contract that the account was in anyway linked to the BBC or that they controlled it. From the BBC’s perspective they have lost a journalist overnight to a rival and as if that wasn’t bad enough she has taken an audience of 60,000 people that could be pushed towards her new shows on ITV even though all the hard work building those numbers was done via the BBC. This case will act as a wake up call for the whole profession and you will see more official Twitter accounts being put in place and lines getting added to contracts defining who owns what.
Journalists Are Brands
There is a move away from all the power sitting with big publications and media organizations towards journalists having their own personal brands. The FT reports that ITV said that the account was a small “additional benefitâ€ to hiring Mrs Kuenssberg but I would say that is glossing over the truth. I would say one of the main reasons they hired her was her large online following and if that was not reflected in her salary package I would be stunned. Journalists are now commodities and the more personal brand they have the more they will get paid. Simple as that.