AP Scolds Reporters For Breaking News On Twitter

from the the-scarcity-mentality dept

Every time the Associated Press does something concerning the internet, it seems to just reinforce how out of touch it is. The latest is the bizarre and ridiculous decision to scold AP reporters for daring to tweet out the “news” that they had been arrested. You see, in the minds of AP bosses, they haven’t quite figured out that artificial scarcity isn’t a the same thing as real scarcity. So they think that if a reporter is arrested, the reporter should keep that news hoarded up until the AP itself can release it. But, as anyone who is a frequent Twitter user knows, that’s crazy in a situation like this. Reporter gets arrested, reporter tweets about it. That’s a perfectly reasonable response. But the AP wanted the story for “itself.”

The problem is that the AP is apparently dreadful at chess. It doesn’t think beyond the single move ahead. So, yes, perhaps they don’t get the “break” on the news that an AP reporter was arrested — that goes on Twitter. But is it really that bad? Let’s just play out the scenario. Assume the story goes viral on Twitter. Remember, this is 140 characters, not a full blown article. If the message goes viral, then tons more people are seeing that short message and are curious about the details — the details that aren’t going to show up on Twitter anyway. But having that tweet out there, so it can go viral, means building interest in the story, and from that, it seems like any story would end up receiving more traffic, because the Twitter messages “primed the pump.” I honestly can’t fathom a scenario in which people see the tweets and decide that it acts as a full replacement for the eventual news article.

Mathew Ingram makes a key point on all of this. If a single 140-character tweet is acting as a suitable replacement for your reporting… you’ve got bigger problems:

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.

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Companies: associated press

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Comments on “AP Scolds Reporters For Breaking News On Twitter”

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xenomancer (profile) says:

A Cynical View

This is a good thing: the AP will hemorrhage all their good writers to the internet and become even less relevant. Perhaps twitter should sue them using the hot news doctrine (dropping the case last minute of course, who wants a piece of legal garbage like the hot news doctrine looming over their head) a few times to get them to tone down their devolutionary approach toward reporting and teach them some humility.

Joe Perry (profile) says:


that’s pretty much the first thing I learned in the journalism class I took. make the headline tell the story because it’s the first, most noticeable thing, and many times the only thing, that people will see. then you start with the most important details and filter down to less and less important things as the article goes on.

basically they taught that no one is going to read your whole article, so if you want to get the story out, put it all in the first couple lines. and that’s why I didn’t go into journalism.

Ilfar says:

Getting the details

If a site/paper/whatever has NOTHING on any of their usual information outlets when I start looking for information on something, I won’t be going back again later just in case they’ve put something up – I’ll move on to another source that DOES have something up.

If all they have up is a “Oh, hey, this happened, get back to you soon with more”, then I’ll go back later and recheck (assuming I don’t find a different site with full information) – they’ve proven to me they’re at least aware of the issue in question and are looking into it.

So basically it’s a two-stage race for my attention – who has the basic stub information up first out of all news providers, and who has the detailed information up first out of those who had the stub.

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