A publication of the World Editors Forum


Wed - 24.01.2018

AP hires Speed Communications to reaffirm value of traditional newswires

AP hires Speed Communications to reaffirm value of traditional newswires

At a time when newspapers are scrambling to hire social media editors and incorporate users' reporting, the Associated Press is moving in the opposite direction.

In an effort to defend quality journalism, the AP has hired the public relations company Speed Communications. The PR move aims to distance the AP from social media and the inconsistent reporting that accompanies it, instead emphasizing the news organization's old school credibility. According to PR Week, Speed Communications will build the AP brand over a few years, launching a campaign of issues-led, thought leadership and corporate programmes.

Considering the AP's industry clout, hiring a PR firm to reinforce the brand is a surprising move. How could one of the world's largest and most reliable news organisations feel so threatened by social media?

To begin with, news aggregation is now moving horizontally. Anyone with access to the Internet can share and spread information, and breaking news increasingly pops up on Twitter before news organisations have time to process and publish the story. For example, the 2008 earthquake in Los Angeles sent Twitter into a flurry of updates mentioning the quake nearly ten minutes before the Associated Press sent out their first official wire. Although ten minutes may not seem like much, news online is expected to be instantaneous and every minute counts for digital publishers.

Stephen Waddington, Speed Communication's Managing Director, dismissed the credibility of social media as a news source.

"Proponents of social media are excited by its potential to disrupt the news process, but for every story broken via Twitter I'll show you ten that are exaggerated, plainly incorrect, or pure propaganda," explained Waddington on Speed Communication's media blog.

There is some truth to Waddington's cautionary comment. After the 2011 Tucson shootings, Twitter was abuzz with untrue reports that US Representative Gabrielle Giffords had died after a shot to the head. Lost Remote aggregated the untrue Tweets from reputable news sources, which included BBC Breaking News, NPR, and Reuters. Reuters deleted their incorrect Tweet, but the other two organisations instead updated the story and apologized for misinforming followers.

The AP is not discarding social media altogether - rather, it seems to be holding it at arm's length. The official AP Twitter is still updated multiple times a day and the AP's annual Stylebook, touted as "The Journalist's Bible", covered Facebook and Twitter usage last year. Ignoring social media is not the AP's long-term strategy. Its central priority is to ensure the AP brand remains a key resource for truthful, quality journalism.

Source: PR Week, Twitter Blog, Speed Communication, Lost Remote



Florence Pichon


2011-07-12 14:39

The World Editors Forum is the organization within the World Association of Newspapers devoted to newspaper editors worldwide. The Editors Weblog (www.editorsweblog.org), launched in January 2004, is a WEF initiative designed to facilitate the diffusion of information relevant to newspapers and their editors.

© 2015 WAN-IFRA - World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Footer Navigation