Should journalists only tweet ‘news’ and refrain from issuing opinions?


According to a certain Twitter user who goes by the handle @MGVtrb (formerly using the user ID “@mgviterbo” (now defunct)), journalists should refrain from tweeting their opinions on Twitter and should only tweet “news”. This was in a tweet she issued today…

To reporters who use their accounts to tweet news, please be ethical enough not to tweet personal opinions. People follow you for news.

Does that sound right?

Interestingly enough, Ms Viterbo uses the following disclaimer on her personal profile:

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My tweets are my PERSONAL views. I DO NOT represent any other person nor any institution. If you have problems with my tweets, please address me directly.


And so we come to the pertinent question of global importance:

Do journalists have the right to issue opinions on their personal social media accounts?

For that matter, are people who follow journalists on social media only interested in “news”?

Funny indeed how, in the age of the much talked up “free market of ideas” that social media technology has made available to ordinary people, we see people who presume to hold an authority on what others should or should not express in public. There are of course limitations to free speech. But those limitations are in line with ethical behaviour one (would think) will have learned back in kindergarten.

Twitter user "@MGVtrb" asserts that journalists should only be tweeting 'news'.

Twitter user “@MGVtrb” asserts that journalists should only be tweeting ‘news’.

Grownups who need to remind the other grownups they hang out with about manners, on the other hand, probably need to find themselves a new set of friends. On social media, specially amongst the clique of people who debate and exchange ideas about politics, the understanding (most likely not known to some) is that this space is a self-correcting community where one soars or falls on the merit of one’s ideas and one gains reputation on the back of one’s consistency.

People choose to follow journalists (or “reporters” as some people prefer to call them) on the basis of this self-correcting mechanism that is inherent to the social media community.

People who start presuming to be an authority on the content of other people’s tweets should get a grip. Social media people are presumed accountable for the content of the statements they publish on social media. If they fly, they must be doing something right. If they sink, well, they certainly must have done something wrong. But, like most systems where the exercise of certain personal liberties is encouraged, the social media “free market of ideas” will take care of itself.

13 Replies to “Should journalists only tweet ‘news’ and refrain from issuing opinions?”

  1. If you don’t want to listen to every dickheads opinion then don’t use Twitter. I certainly don’t and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything earth shattering.

    I don’t use facebook or any of that USELESS crap. My wife shows me things on facebook that people post and its 99% complete stupid, useless shit.

    I’m sure Twitter is no different.

    P.S: Just looking at that “happy” Family in their yellow shirts makes me want to throw up.

  2. To reporters who use their accounts to tweet news, please be ethical enough not to tweet personal opinions. People follow you for news.

    Her statement is an opinion, right :-D.

    Self-contradictory . . .

  3. She does have a valid point.

    In the current state of the pinoy society where there is no clear line to distinguish facts and opinion and that every Juan “in” enough to have a smartphone and too lazy to do their own research regarding current affairs (you know pinoys, maka follow lang, maka like lang), it really is important for media/journalists channels to give this a careful consideration.

    Credibility is the key word. Compare news way back 3 decades ago and now. What news would you rather have, news delivered by some guy with a wide nose speaking street lingo or a guy professionally pleasant to the eyes and ears? News now is leaning more towards entertainment rather than information, and gullible pinoy fool takes it as a matter of fact and the degree of importance is also skewed as they would rather put local actors/actresses in the headlines rather than more pressing matters.

    Maybe in a more mature society journalists can tweet whatever they want, but not in the pinas. Call me martial law enthusiast or whatever…I don’t really care.

    1. Possibly what she means is: don’t present your opinions as facts?

      While I agree with Jim DiGriz – 99% of everything you read on Facebook/Twitter is mindless trash and will rot your brain – that’s where the average Pinoy gets his/her “facts” about the world.

      Media personalities, I guess, are taken as infallible, like the Pope. Perhaps MGVtrb is pointing out, gently, that Pinoys don’t have the brains they were born with and will uncritically accept anything posted by journalists on social media as True.

      Thus you end up with an entire country saying stuff like “you know Filipinos invented the lunar rover?”.

    2. @Marius

      And that is the problem.

      Most Filipinos do not hunger for new ideas and knowledge anymore. I get a lot of “nosebleed” reply when I try to open up a more substantial topic rather than Aldub. It is clearly a case self censorship. Ultimately, only oneself can decide on what to fill your brain cells with.

    3. At first i thought that was a really dumb suggestion, but thanks for reminding me that we are dealing with a special kind of stupid when it comes to pinoys. They usually do not hold opinions of their own, but instead follow the bandwagon.

  4. If you use your common sense, to believe what is true; and not to believe what is not true. Then, wherever the news, opinions, etc… came from…you will not have any problem. To me, I don’t care what are the sources of news and opinions. They have to be examined, before they are accepted as truth.

  5. Straight news reporting is passe.
    A journalist does not only report news. He uses his intellect and perception of the news he delivers to share his views provided he declares the same to be so.

  6. Filipinos practice irresponsible journalism like they irresponsibly believe in religion. So? What is new?

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