Today, the AP updated it is social media guidelines to include live-tweeting and an updating section on how to connect with newsmakers on social media, further cementing social media’s importance in the future of journalism.
In brief, live-tweeting of public news events is fine as long as it does not come before the news desk. You are also not supposed to publish exclusive material on Twitter before the wire publishes it first.
Making contact with politicians, news-makers, and sources is OK as long as its on both sides of a controversial issue.
The AP is also weary of re-tweeting as a sign of endorsement or expression of a personal opinion.
How do these new guidelines negotiate the already entrenched branding of the AP with the emergence with new and potential hierarchically disruptive forms of media as Twitter? Are these guidelines just helpful tips for new reporters, or is there something more subtly attached to each guideline about the established order?
Networks such as Twitter and Reddit are often criticized for being the source of nefarious rumors and false news reports, including a false conclusion on the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act by CNN.
But as misreports and errors can spread quicker than in print news, they can also be publicly vetted for accuracy. When George Mason University students deliberately created fake Wikipedia entries they used these pages as a veneer of credibility for websites, YouTube videos, and other sources. Reddit users spotted the fake in less than half an hour. Several users first found the hoaxes and like white blood cells on an pathogen, they swarmed on the fakes.
As Yoni Appelbaum describes in a post at The Atlantic: “The Wikipedia articles had been posted and edited by a small group of new users. Finding documents in an old steamer trunk sounded too convenient. And why had Lisa been savvy enough to ask Reddit, but not enough to Google the names and find the Wikipedia entries on her own? The hoax took months to plan but just minutes to fail.”
In a research paper entitled “Tweets and Truth,” University of British Columbia journalism professor Alfred Hermida speculates that Twitter can bus used in a similar way to fact-check news in something approaching real time.
Is there anyway that social media and journalism could find a symbiotic relationships?