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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 12:37 PM ET, 11/18/2011

AP gets steamed at Huffington Post, sources say

How irked was the Associated Press over the following tweet from Huffington Post social media guru Mandy Jenkins?

AP staffers scolded for tweeting ahead of the wires from #OWS. http://bit.ly/smSmj8 i.e. The AP tries its damndest to be irrelevant

Well, irked enough that the AP’s social media leader, Lou Ferrara, said this to the Erik Wemple Blog earlier this week:

If we’re so irrelevant in social media, why do people care about what we do?

And irked enough that the AP took the matter directly to the Huffington Post brass, expressing its displeasure that a subscriber organization would allow an employee to vent publicly about the AP, according to two sources familiar with the situation. When asked about the discussion, Ferrara responded:

I talk to Huffington Post as well as numerous customers . . . just as a matter of practice. I shouldn’t be and cannot be disclosing details of conversations I’ve had with customers.

Huffington Post spokesperson Mario Ruiz characterized it as a “nice conversation” that was “in keeping with the good relationship we have w AP,” he wrote via e-mail.

Whatever the tenor of the discussion, the message to Jenkins came through: Knock it off. (Jenkins declined to comment.)

The static from the wire service has reportedly prompted, or arrived in the midst of, a discussion at the Huffington Post about its own social-media standards. Was the Twitter policy that Jenkins satirized out of line with the Huffington Post’s standards?

Not much detail coming from the Huffington Post on this one. Ruiz:

We ask that our editors and reporters use common sense and judgment when tweeting.

Though the AP and the Huffington Post aren’t talking much about this episode, it’s not hard to divine what’s behind it. The Huffington Post is a dreamboat when it comes to showcasing AP copy. It takes its wire feed, dresses it up, teases it, optimizes it, installs a high-performance muffler on it, and drives almost illicit amounts of Web traffic off of it. Huffington Post sexifies AP stuff in a way that the Charlotte Observer and its ilk have never been able to. When Ruiz says the Huffington Post is buddies with the AP, there’s no reason to doubt him.

So perhaps the AP was just miffed that just a close partner organization would dis it in public. Understandable, I suppose. Lame, too: Next time the AP comes out of the shower, it should apply some skin-thickening cream.

That reporters and news organizations would rumble over Twitter protocols not even one week after the industry split over whether master aggregator Jim Romenesko properly used quotation marks in his posts leads to a single conclusion: Journalism these days has no clue about digital journalism. The upside is that next week is a short one, yielding fewer opportunities to expose a profession that can’t agree on things.

In the meantime, the Erik Wemple Blog hereby licenses its own social media guideline to all news organizations. No quotes or attribution necessary:

Social Media Guideline
Dear Editorial Staff: We hired you because we were impressed with your integrity, your attention to detail, and your passion for getting it right every time. Please make use of those traits on all social media platforms.

By  |  12:37 PM ET, 11/18/2011

 
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