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


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.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Policy
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture (CCISC)
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Journalism Studies on 2 Dec 2020, available online at:
Uncontrolled Keywords: BBC,MPs,Twitter,bias,impartiality,political journalism,Communication
Publication ISSN: 1469-9699
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2024 07:31
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2020 14:48
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://www.tan ... 0X.2020.1852099 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2021
Published Online Date: 2020-12-02
Accepted Date: 2020-11-04
Authors: Mills, Tom (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-1389-7577)
Mullan, Killian (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-0027-037X)
Fooks, Gary Jonas (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-0080-4802)



Version: Accepted Version

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