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The News Breaks On Twitter…

…but if you’re The Associated Press apparently you’d rather it didn’t. This week, the news agency warned some of its staff about tweeting a story using their @AP account before putting it out on the news wires (basically, a service that newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, and other news organizations pay for to offer them national and international coverage). And while this may seem backwards or draconian, it actually makes a lot of sense.

AP is meant to be a ‘not-for-profit cooperative’ (and it should be noted in the above article the BBC had a Reuters employee comment and they asked one of their own employees, but the situationĀ  is very different at a for-profit broadcaster and a state broadcast than at a wire service agency). If AP has the scoop on a breaking news story, that’s great! They should then share it with their paid subscribers so those groups can relay it to their listeners. Which is what they do.

The issue is when they serve their subscribers over social media, who are not paying for this information, first. Of course it’s the information age and some things will be picked up before they can send out the needed info to the media outlets. But that being said, if an AP editor sees an important story come through that may not have reached every ear or eyeball yet, the quickest way to pass it along will be to get it to the news outlets who can then rebroadcast it to their listeners in whatever way they choose (including over Twitter).

It should be noted the Associated Press takes Twitter seriously. Their account is verified. They tweet several times an hour, and post corrections when needed (though I notice they don’t delete the incorrect tweets). In their bio, they mention the account is manned 24/7 which is good because you know it’s reliable and not just extra duties being added to existing employees who may have other things to worry about. They’ve even set up lists for their reporters so you can search by topic and find their staff (though remember what I said about lists…always better to make your own) and they provide any breaking or event coverage while the main account focuses on big announcements and published stories. And while it may be a monologue, and they don’t use hashtags, they still have over 625,000 followers.

The gut reaction is to assume they are stifling creativity or ‘against’ progress. If this were a for-profit news agency, I might agree. The only thing I could suggest (and this would be hard in a world of 140 characters) is for AP to tell its Twitter follows “Tune to your local AP affiliate” (for more on this story). Certainly they should still post the news to Twitter for people who work in the business and want to stay up to date while they’re out of the office (if for no one else). But as long as that’s after it’s been sent to newsrooms around the world, then there’s no issue.

What do you think of the Associated Press’ social media policy? Let us know in the comments.

-PG

Not an actual AP reporter.

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