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The AP sets the record straight on social media

The AP sets the record straight on social media

In response to last week's article, 'AP hires Speed Communications to reaffirm value of traditional newswires,' the Associated Press has clarified its relationship with social media. While the newswire has hired a PR firm to reinforce the brand's value, social media is already well embedded into AP's approach to newsgathering and publishing.

In fact, the AP updated its social media guidelines last week. The guidelines encourage participation on social networking sites and walk journalists through appropriate usage. Most of the advice dispensed is common sense, meant to avoid actions that would jeopardize the AP's neutrality.

"We don't just view social media as a publishing platform or distribution platform, but also as a newsgathering platform," explained Lou Ferrara, the AP's managing editor for sports, entertainment, and interactive media.

"If you look at the AP's 160-some odd year history, we've always smartly adapted to new formats and methods of communication, whether it be radio, TV, digital photography, mobile phones, we have always been in that game. We've used social media through that same prism."

AP journalists are encouraged to open Facebook and Twitter accounts, although privacy settings are at the user's discretion. However, journalists are increasingly choosing to adopt public online profiles, as these platforms have become part of the fabric of reporting across the industry.

In last week's PR Week article, Scott McLean of Speed Communications expressed mistrust of the reliability of information shared on Twitter. His wariness is not unfounded. News organisations depend on the AP's accuracy. Social media is an important branch of newsgathering strategies but only if held to the same standards of verification as any other source. While Ferrara may be an active member of Twitter, he says, "I don't trust social media anymore than I trust the government, or any other corporation I'm reporting on."

Beyond social networking, the AP is embracing digital in other ways. Today it announced a new multimedia project to cover sports as athletes compete in the IAAF World Championships, the last major athletics event before the 2012 London Olympics. AP customers will receive text stories, video clips, and photos to complete their multimedia coverage.

Although the AP is leaving user generated content to other news organisations, it has not shied away from new media opportunities. It has embraced publishing and contacting sources via social networking sites. Social media is seen as a tool for AP journalists, but one that requires some caution to maintain the AP's neutrality and dependability.

For those interested, MuckRack has aggregated AP journalists' Twitter accounts: http://muckrack.com/ap

Sources: PR Week



Florence Pichon


2011-07-19 15:59

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