AP staff reprimanded for tweeting break news

Following ESPN’s retrograde lead, the Associated Press sent out an email telling staff that breaking news on Twitter is not appropriate. Like totally NOT APPROPRIATE:

 “In relation to AP staff being taken into custody at the Occupy Wall Street story, we’ve had a breakdown in staff sticking to policies around social media and everyone needs to get with their folks now to tell them to knock it off,” went one version of the e-mail sent from on high, as obtained by Daily Intel. “We have had staff tweet – BEFORE THE MATERIAL WAS ON THE WIRE – that staff were arrested.”

If Twitter is faster than the wire, maybe Twitter is simply a better breaking news platform. The issue that these policies cause is that someone else will break the news first. Once the news is broken it will be retweeted, and the reporters that broke the news first on Twitter will get all the retweets. If the AP is going to require its reporters to wait until something is on the wire first to link to, AP reporters will fall behind, and people will turn less and less to AP reporters and content for breaking news.

There is nothing wrong with breaking news on Twitter and then sending out additional tweets with links to more info in the future. This doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition. Break the news on Twitter, write a short wire post and then send out another tweet with more info. Simple.

Remember Twitter is just 140 characters. Your wire report should have more information than that, and if you don’t have more information than that, I’d wait until you do.

If AP, Reuters, ESPN and others insist on these poor policies, they’ll fall behind new media outlets that firmly embrace these new tools.