Karen Matthews, AP reporter, arrested by NYC coppers
Photo by AP photographer Seth Wenig, also arrested
Associated Press has reprimanded some of its journalists for breaking news on Twitter before posting it on the wires.
The news agency issued the warning after some staff members tweeted that AP journalists had been arrested at the Occupy Wall Street camp in Manhattan. An email from bosses followed reminding staff about AP’s social media policies…
While Twitter is an invaluable tool in newsrooms around the world, it has also forced news organisations, including AP, to draw up strict rules.
“If you have a piece of information, a photo or a video that is compelling, exclusive and/or urgent enough to be considered breaking news, you should file it to the wire, and photo and video points before you consider putting it out on social media,” the AP policy reads.
After the recent incident in New York, AP’s managing editor Lou Ferrara wrote an email to employees explaining that their first duty was to the agency not Twitter.
And executive editor Kathleen Carroll issued a memo saying much of the resulting “chatter” had missed the point.
“When we lose contact with a journalist, our main focus is making sure they are safe, no matter where they are. Sometimes, talking about it while things are still uncertain can endanger them,” she said.
“It’s not outlandish to think that a tweet that’s taken by someone in authority to be opinionated or sarcastic could lead to one of our staffers being held longer than necessary…”
But Anthony de Rosa, social media editor at Reuters, thinks that such policies may need to be overhauled. He tweeted: “News agencies must evolve or face extinction.”
He expanded the point in his official Reuters blog.
“The wire is still a huge part of our business and always will be. However, acting in a way that handcuffs us from doing our best work on Reuters.com and on social networks, which help drive traffic and extend our brand, is writing a death sentence for us as a future media company.
“To bury our head in the sand and act like Twitter (and who knows what else comes into existence next month or five years from now?) isn’t increasingly becoming the source of what informs people in real-time is ridiculous,” he wrote.
RTFA – the discussion moves in a few directions not the least of which is hoax tweets – which are generally reprehensible.