The AP is Changing the Way Their Reporters Use Twitter
Many journalists and other media-industry observers on Twitter responded to the AP’s edict with scorn and derision, as detailed in a Storify roundup of some reactions. New York Times media writer David Carr, for example, simply said: “Good luck with that.” National Public Radio’s Andy Carvin—a pioneer of using Twitter to report on breaking news events such as the Arab Spring revolutions—said the policy was “an homage to lawyers” and suggested that he had no intention of following such a rule. Someone else said the AP was now just “hiring robots.” –Businessweek
The AP is worried that when their reporters retweet, they are sending the message that what is being said is an endorsement and a sign of approval. Many journalists have tried to deal with this by including the verbage “retweets are not endorsements” in their Twitter bio, but since such disclaimers in a bio are rarely seen by viewers, the AP isn’t accepting this.
What the AP is trying to do is keep their journalists from voicing their opinions.
By pretending that their journalists don’t have opinions when everyone knows they do, mainstream media outlets are suggesting that their viewers or readers are too stupid to figure out where the truth lies—or too thick to consider the facts of a story whose reporter happens to have retweeted someone’s comment or joined a certain Facebook page. Given this kind of treatment, many looking for news are likely to migrate to sources that admit they have views, rather than continue to be talked down to by newspapers and TV networks that pretend they are above that sort of thing. –Businessweek
This is a tough issue to crack, and one that won’t be sorted out overnight. Do journalists give up their right to opinions just because they work for a news organization? Will this discourage active Twitter use by journalists?
Jeff Sonderman from Poynter suggests three ways journalists can handle retweets without worrying about creating a “mistweet.”
The Native Retweet:
This keeps the name and avatar of the original tweeter intact, and subtly noting you were the retweeter.
The Manual Retweet:
This allows you to preface the tweet with your own comment. This creates a new tweet with your name and avatar, and could, Sonderman explains, make you appear more closely associated with the tweet.
The example Sonderman gives is this:
Fact-checking this RT @BarakObama: President Obama speaks about the American Jobs Act: wh.gov/live #WeCantWait
The Modified Retweet:
Similar to the Manual Retweet but here you paraphrase and change the original language. This type of retweet is prefaced with am MT instead of a RT.
I will be fact-checking this life MT @BarakObama: Speaking now about the American Jobs Act: wh.gov/live
What do you think of the APs new social-media policy concerning Twitter? Have they gone too far or are they just in their request? Let us know your opinion, especially if you’re a freelance journalist affected by these changes in social media.