In October 2020, the BBC cracked down on "virtue signalling" in its new social media guidelines: two words that most associate with someone backing an idea to show the world they are a good person, basically another word for grandstanding. The broadcaster warned staff against backing campaigns or giving views on controversial policies because it feared this undermines its impartiality.
Commercial news outlets, however, do not need to worry so much about virtue signalling. Some even actively play into it on social media. One of those is JOE Media, an entertainment news website for young, British men. We heard at our last Newsrewired conference how the publisher does not shy away from virtue signalling on Instagram, where it enjoys much success.
If news publishers want to appeal to the young crowd, they must speak in their language. This is something that JOE Media understands well.
In this week's podcast, we talk to the head of news and politics Oli Dugmore about what this means for political journalism, under the banner of Politics JOE channels. Is virtue signalling on social that far removed from the British tabloid press' long history of partisanship? Where are the boundaries?
Dugmore is also the face of many of JOE Media's most successful videos, including the viral vox-pop in 2019 when many people were worried about NHS being privatised post-Brexit. That video amassed 85m views across all platforms. He shares some of his newsroom's thinking on how to tap into audiences' moral beliefs to get the stories shared more widely.
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