In case you missed it---The Associated Press took a beating yesterday after upbraiding staffers for tweeting about police actions against other AP staffers in the midst of the police actions against Occupy Wall Street early this week. Those tweets surfaced before the wire service had a story on the matter on any of its “platforms” and thereby violated the AP’s social media standards. AP’s Lou Ferrara, the organization’s social media leader, told APers to “knock it off.”
In an interview with the Erik Wemple Blog, Ferrara reaffirmed the point about getting news on an AP platform before tweets go out from staffers, saying, “That’s what our customers expect.” He also emphasized safety concerns.
The old safety thing seemed a little specious, so I pushed Ferrara on the point: How would tweeting endanger the safety of the people who may have been arrested or taken into custody? Ferrara responded that whether we’re talking about a situation here in the United States or overseas, the same principle applies: Don’t give the authorities any material that could give them a bad perception of you, as a few ill-advised tweets will do.
What I enjoyed most about chatting with Ferrara was how he challenged conventional notions about Twitter. When he talked about how people were tweeting stuff without having complete information, I said, hey, isn’t that essentially what Twitter is all about — that is, putting a story together piece by incomplete piece? He shot back, “That’s your perception.”
It is, and it will remain so. But it’s nice to have someone come up and slap you in the face with an opposing view.
●For a fine rebuttal to the AP’s approach to Twitter, check out Mathew Ingram’s piece at GigaOm. The headline says it all: “Memo to AP: Twitter is the newswire now.”
The other thing the Associated Press needs to think about is that if a 140-character post or two by one of your reporters on Twitter is a threat to your news service, then you have a problem that can’t be fixed by simply enforcing your social-media policies more stringently. This argument feels very similar to the debates that newspapers used to have when they first put up websites — about whether to post breaking news to their site, or “save” it for the paper. This was fundamentally a lose-lose situation, as most newspapers discovered, since saving it often involved others breaking the news first on their websites.
●NPR’s David Folkenflik probes Newt Gingrich’s by-now-predictable swipes at the news media in debates.
Gingrich may have found his voice, in part, by turning the tables on the political press. Republicans have been doing this for decades — quite explicitly at least since Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew in 1968.
In Gingrich’s case, it was a strategy masquerading as a tactic — one that he adopted over the summer at a time of desperation.
The question, as Folkenflik frames it, is whether panning the press will work as well for top-tier candidate Gingrich as it appears to have worked for in-the-pack candidate Gingrich. In his position as an objective reporter, Folkenflik leaves that question open.
In my position as a say-anything blogger, I’ll close it: Gingrich’s attacks on the news media during debates have teetered between vacuous/randstandy and downright counterfactual. Remember the time he shamed the news media for not demanding accountability of the Federal Reserve? Well, just months before that, two media organizations had won a high-profile FOIA court case that secured documents from the secretive entity.
So yes, the guy’s got to find another set of gears in his rig.
●A groundbreaking story in the New York Times begins with the news that investigators in the Penn State-Jerry Sandusky case followed a “random” mention on the Internet — something about how a football coach for Penn State had witnessed something terrible a long while back.
●Nieman Journalism Lab asks whether Twitter ads could give newspapers a boost:
This isn’t exactly new territory, as a number of papers have experimented with droppings ads into Twitter in the last year. (Not to mention non-news outlets like, um, Kim Kardashian, for whom pay-per-tweet is a long-standing phenomenon.) Tweets offer another ad unit to sell, and when you’ve got an advertising salesforce in place, it almost — almost — seems like a no-brainer. And with the money floating around the paid-tweet world, it’s hard not to blame news organizations for wanting in on the market; five figures for tweeting endorsements is well within the reach of a popular reality TV star. Can Twitter advertising for newspapers work?
●Greg Marx at the Columbia Journalism Review argues that it’s not the liberal media that froze out Michele Bachmann. Rather, it’s Bachmann’s “home team” — i.e., Fox News and other conservative outlets.
Given the deep affiliation between Fox News and the GOP, this is a textbook case of the party deciding — in this case, deciding that despite the excitement she was generating, Bachmann wasn’t a top-tier candidate. It’s become a reflex for conservative politicians to complain about their treatment by the “liberal media,” but Bachmann’s grievances are better directed at the home team.
●Jon Stewart satirizes John Kerry and the heroes of the supercommittee: