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AP Updates Social Media Guidelines

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The Associated Press followed up on last week’s reminder to its editorial staff to avoid sharing opinions via social media with an updated set of social media guidelines.

Some highlights from the new AP guidelines:

• All AP journalists are encouraged to have accounts on social networking sites. These sites are now an integral part of everyday life for millions of people around the world. They have become an essential tool for AP reporters to gather news and share links to our published work.

• Employees must identify themselves as being from AP if they are using the accounts for work in any way. You don’t have to include AP in your username, but you should use a personal image for the profile photo (not an AP logo) and identify yourself in your profile as an AP staffer.

• Employees should be mindful that any personal information they disclose about themselves or colleagues may be linked to the AP’s name. That’s true even if staffers restrict their pages to viewing only by friends. It’s not just like uttering a comment over a beer with your friends: It’s all too easy for someone to copy material out of restricted pages and redirect it elsewhere for wider viewing. As multitudes of people have learned all too well, virtually nothing is truly private on the Internet.

• Everyone who works for AP must be mindful that opinions he or she expresses may damage the AP’s reputation as an unbiased source of news. AP employees must refrain from declaring their views on contentious public issues in any public forum and must not take part in demonstrations in support of causes or movements. This includes liking and following pages and groups that are associated with these causes or movements.

• Sometimes AP staffers ask if they’re free to comment in social media on matters like sports and entertainment. The answer is yes, with a couple of reasonable exceptions.

• First, trash-talking about anyone (or team or company or celebrity) reflects badly on staffers and the AP. Assume your tweet will be seen by the target of your comment. The person or organization you’re deriding may be one that an AP colleague is trying to develop as a source.

• Second, if you or your department covers a subject — or you supervise people who do — you have a special obligation to be even-handed in your tweets. Whenever possible, link to AP copy, where we have the space to represent all points of view.

• If reporters need to friend a newsmaker who is using a personal profile on Facebook, they should limit the newsmaker’s access to their own personal information using Facebook’s Friend Lists and privacy settings. Instructions on how to do this can be found on Inside AP’s Social Media Toolkit.

• Don’t break news that we haven’t published, no matter the format.

• If you have a piece of information, a photo, or a video that is compelling, exclusive and/or urgent enough to be considered breaking news, you should file it to the wire, and photo and video points, before you consider putting it out on social media. And in those cases in which you capture exclusive content, you should consult with a supervisor about how to share it on your personal social media account.

• Many athletes, celebrities, and politicians have verified Twitter accounts, meaning that Twitter has given their individual accounts a “stamp of approval” to indicate that it really does belong to that person. Before you quote from a verified user’s tweets for the first time, however, you need to confirm who is managing the account. Is it the famous person? His or her handlers? A combination? Knowing the source of the information will help you determine just how newsworthy the tweet is and how to characterize it.

• Abusive, obscene, and/or racist comments posted to an AP-managed platform should be flagged to the Nerve Center immediately. As for people who send flaming, generic denunciations of our integrity or judgment, there are a couple of approaches. Many such writers will not be satisfied by any response from us, however well-reasoned. Time that could be devoted to responding can usually be better spent elsewhere. There’s no need to engage such people at all.

• We should not get into protracted back-and-forth exchanges with angry people that become less constructive with each new round.

AP deputy managing editor for standards and production Tom Kent said in a memo announcing the update, as reported by The Cutline, “Just as social media and its uses continue to evolve, so will our policies related to this topic.”

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

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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.

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By AP Decree: Email, Cellphone, Smartphone, Kolkata

The Associated Press announced four changes to its AP Stylebook, which officially take effect at 3 a.m. Saturday:

• cellphone replaces cell phone;

• email is now acceptable for all references to electronic mail, replacing e-mail;

• smartphone is now acceptable for advanced cellphones with capabilities including Web browsing, email, and downloadable apps, replacing smart phone; and

• Kolkata is now the style for the city in India formerly known as Calcutta.

Tweet Questioning Referee’s Integrity Could Cost AP NBA Beat Writer

A Tweet by The Associated Press‘ beat writer for the National Basketball Association‘s Minnesota Timberwolves that was critical of an official could prove costly, as ESPN.com reports that NBA referee Bill Spooner filed suit against Jon Krawczynski for alleging that Spooner promised the Timberwolves a makeup call during a Jan. 24 game against the Houston Rockets.

According to ESPN.com, Minnesota head coach Kurt Rambis objected to a foul call by Spooner, who responded that he would review the call at halftime. When the coach asked how he would get the two points that resulted from the call back, Krawczynski claimed that the 22-year game official hinted at a makeup call, Tweeting, “Ref Bill Spooner told Rambis he’d ‘get it back’ after a bad call. Then he made an even worse call on Rockets. That’s NBA officiating folks.”

Spooner denied the allegations in the Tweet, saying he never responded to Rambis’ question, and his suit seeks more than $75,000 in damages, the deletion of the Tweet, and a retraction of the statement, ESPN.com reported.

AP associated general counsel Dave Tomlin responded, “We believe all of the facts we reported from the game in question were accurate,” and a spokesman told ESPN.com AP had not yet been served.

AP Study: Web Video a Victim of Newspapers’ Cost-Cutting

According to a study of 100 U.S. newspapers by The Associated Press, many are cutting their use of Web video and laying off video journalists due to cost-cutting measures. AP director of U.S. broadcast news Kevin Roach discussed the results with Beet.TV, saying newspapers should seize the opportunities presented by social media and mobile devices, including tablets, and keep video in their editorial mix.

Why AP Didn’t Stream YouTube’s Obama Interview

The Associated Press director of U.S. broadcast operations Kevin Roach explained why the AP did not stream the 30-minute live interview on YouTube conducted by President Barack Obama Jan. 27. On a panel at the Beet.TV Online Video Journalism Summit, he said the segment was shot on White House cameras and mentioned the journalistic challenges for news organizations that prefer to manage newsgathering on their own or via a collaborative pool.

AP News Registry to Become Part of New News Licensing Group This Summer

The Associated Press will establish an independent news licensing agency this summer that will offer publishers access to original news content, as well as support for new business models. In addition to AP fare, the News Licensing Group will provide content from more than 1,000 publications.

The AP News Registry, which was first announced in July 2009, will be part of the News Licensing Group, and AP said the entity will be owned by new publishers and hopes to raise funding from the industry.

AP added that nearly 1,000 publications are participating in the News Registry, and it has collected more than 5 billion content impressions around the Web.

AP president and CEO Tom Curley said:

This will be a game-changer for news providers worldwide. It’s pro-competitive and it’s pro-consumer, and it will be a leader in the digital information business. We’ll be looking at development opportunities and seeking content commitments from publishers. We will move beyond text to photos and video and expand internationally later this year.

AP to Shift Online Video to News Distribution Network Platform

The Associated Press will shift its hosted online-video operations to a digital platform from digital-video and ad-solutions company News Distribution Network, and the transition is expected to wrap up during the first quarter of 2011.

NDN will service the 1,500 or so affiliates of AP’s Online Video Network and provide fresh video content in more than one-dozen categories, customization, and revenue opportunities.

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AP Archive to Offer CelebrityFootage Video

The CelebrityFootage archive of more than 20 years of stock footage will be available via AP Archive, the footage-sales division of The Associated Press, under terms of an agreement between the two parties, announced Thursday.

Updated daily, the CelebrityFootage videos will be sold alongside videos from AP and its other content partners, including Democratic Voice of Burma, ABC News, Chinese Central Television, Vatican Television, and the World Wildlife Fund. AP currently produces four daily entertainment video news feeds and its entertainment archive totals some 100,000 videos.

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