Wednesday 11 December 2019

RTÉ defend editorial guidelines after 'fake tweet' read live on air

RTE: File photo
RTE: File photo
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

RTÉ have defended their editorial protocol after a 'fake tweet' was read out live on air this week.

The tweet was read out on RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland just weeks after a "substantial" settlement by the national broadcaster for 'Tweetgate'.

The national broadcaster paid the former presidential election candidate Seán Gallagher the "substantial damages", believed to be in the region of €130,000, to settle his action in December.

The former 'Dragons' Den' investor also received a lengthy apology over the 'fake tweet' incident on the 'Frontline' presidential debate programme, which he alleged contributed to his loss of the 2011 election to Michael D Higgins.

It was believed the settlement involved RTÉ paying some of Gallagher's legal costs.

Now, following a fake tweet being read out on Tuesday morning's RTE Radio One 'Morning Ireland' programme, RTÉ said the Morning Ireland presenter "adhered to guidelines" by correcting the error on air.

They also confirmed that they made reviews to their social media guidelines following the original 'Tweetgate' incident.

On Tuesday, presenter Audrey Carville read out a tweet purporting to be from the Twitter account of U.S. President Donald Trump following the dramatic drop of the Dow Jones.

The tweet, which appeared to be from February 2015, read; "If the Dow Joans ever falls more than 1000 "points" in a Single Day the sitting president should be "loaded" into a very big cannon and Shot into the sun at TREMENDOUS SPEED! No excuses! [sic]."

Shaun Usher, founder of British website 'Letters of Note', shared the fake tweet as a joke on Monday.

Usher soon followed it up writing; "Sweet mother of god. Not for one second did I think people would believe that to be genuine.... omg it's everywhere. What have I done."

Within 10 minutes of reading the tweet live on air, Carville said; "It's 8.42 on Morning Ireland. You can stop tweeting me, yes I fell for it, that Donal Trump tweet was indeed fake."

An RTÉ spokesperson told; "An erroneous tweet was referenced on Tuesday morning on Morning Ireland, however, the presenter acknowledged and clarified this error within minutes live on air, during the same programme."

The spokesperson said RTÉ have "detailed Journalism Guidelines and Social Media Guidelines which include specific reference to sourcing information from social media", which are available on RTÉ.ie's 'About' section.

The spokesperson added; "The RTÉ Journalism Guidelines state: 'A commitment to accuracy includes a willingness to correct significant errors and clarify ambiguous or otherwise misleading information in as timely and appropriate a manner as possible.'

"We believe these guidelines were adhered to in this instance."

They added; "The Frontline Presidential Debate happened in November 2011, shortly after RTÉ instituted a full editorial review of standards and practices and published new Programme-Makers’ Guidelines including a specific protocol on uses of Social Media in programme content in 2012.

"This was all publicly announced in statements at the time.

"The Social Media Guidelines published on RTÉ.ie are a revised edition published in 2013. The Journalism Guidelines currently available were revised in 2014."

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