Posted by John Nemo
I have great things to say about The Associated Press. I worked part-time and full-time early on in my career for the AP’s Minneapolis bureau, and the training/experience/chops I learned there continue to serve me well to this day. As an AP reporter you have to literally be an instant expert on something new every day, covering breaking news as it happens and sharing stories with a worldwide audience in near real-time.
But I am beyond stunned at how foolish the AP’s top brass is behaving when it comes to silencing its reporters’ and editors’ use of Twitter.
Not letting reporters share personal opinions is bad enough. Not even letting them RT someone else’s person opinion is even dumber.
More important, I can’t say enough how AP is missing a huge opportunity to increase its value/influence on Twitter by doing this. AP reporters are often viewed as experts and are universally beloved by brands/PR folks/etc. because of AP’s massive reach. As a result, being an AP reporter often opens doors that are otherwise closed to many other journalists. Why not leverage that access and authority for all its worth if you’re the AP?
Another point: AP’s reporters and editors are among the most overworked and under-appreciated journalists on the planet. So going all Big Brother on them is not going to boost office morale anytime soon. Punk management moves like this are only going to drive more talented and experienced people away from AP and over to other news organizations or even (gasp!) PR shops.
I should point out that AP’s supposed reasoning behind this move is to prevent reporters from showing any type of bias in their Tweets/etc.
Yet for years, AP reporters (and many other journalists) have proven time and again that just because a human being has an opinion/viewpoint on an issue doesn’t mean he or she can’t cover it in a fair and professional manner. In fact, when our union had a huge strike last summer, I was actually shocked later to learn so many of the reporters covering us were actually in unions and in fact very pro-union. You never would have known based on the way they covered the story – they were extremely balanced/etc.
The AP needs to treat its reporters and editors like adults. That’s what they are, after all. Also, the reason (up until now) that I follow the AP reporters/editors on Twitter that I do is because of their personality/candor/opinions. Who wants to follow a boring, robotic-type? What’s the point? Yet that’s what AP will turn its 3,700 journalists into with this knucklehead move.
Not only do I feel bad for my friends who are still working for AP, but I feel bad for all of the readers/followers on Twitter who will miss out on some great, entertaining and expert insights and opinions as a result. Too bad.