AP Issues Reminder to Staff on Including Opinions in Social Media Posts

Tom Kent, deputy managing editor for standards and production at The Associated Press, felt the need to send a reminder email to AP staffers not to include opinions when using social media such as Twitter and Facebook, citing posts related to the vote on gay marriage by the state Senate in New York, and the Casey Anthony trial, without naming the staffers responsible, The Cutline reported.

Kent’s email, via Poynter/Romenesko:

In at least two recent cases, we have seen a few postings on social networks by AP staffers expressing personal opinions on issues in the news.

This has happened on the New York Senate vote on gay marriage and on the Casey Anthony trial. These posts undermine the credibility of our colleagues who have been working so hard to assure balanced and unbiased coverage of these issues.

AP’s News Values and Principles state that anyone who works for AP must be mindful that opinions they express may damage the AP’s reputation as an unbiased source of news. This point is contained in our social network guidelines, as well.

Failure to abide by these rules can lead to disciplinary action.

The vast majority of our tweets on these stories — and on other issues in the news — have been completely in line with our guidelines. They pose no problem at all, and are consistent with the importance of AP staffers being active on social networks.

But social networks, however we may configure our accounts or select our friends, should be considered a public forum. AP staffers should not make postings there that amount to personal opinions on contentious public issues.

Please let your supervisor or me know if you have any questions on this. And thanks.

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