NEW YORK – The Associated Press said on Monday it was launching a review of its social media policies after questions were raised about the dismissal last week of one of its reporters who had expressed concern pro-Palestinian views.
In a note to staff members on Monday, PA news officers asked volunteers to suggest changes to social media guidelines, with the idea of ââa committee making recommendations by September. .
One of the issues raised in recent days is the belief that restrictions on social media keep you from being your real self, and that this disproportionately harms journalists of color, LGBTQ journalists and others who often feel attacked online, âthe memo reads. “We have to delve into this problem.”
Wilder, a 22-year-old who had worked just over two weeks covering news in the western United States from Phoenix, was fired after the AP said she broke the rules social media. The rules require staff members not to express opinions on controversial issues for fear of damaging the PA’s reputation for objectivity and jeopardizing its many reporters around the world.
Meanwhile, a group of young Republicans at Stanford University raised concerns about Wilder’s plea as a student there. Wilder, who was not told what she did specifically to break the standards, said her dismissal was “precipitated by a wave of harassment against me.”
AP journalists who wrote protesting his firing demanded more clarity on the decision and said they feared the decision would embolden others who would launch smear campaigns against journalists, and have already reported many reluctant to engage in social media.
News officials said it was difficult to share more information: The company does not publicly discuss staff issues to protect staff privacy.
“We can assure you that much of the coverage and commentary does not accurately describe a difficult decision that we did not take lightly,” the memo reads. It was not clear what information was being reported inaccurately.
The incident illustrates how difficult it can be for a news organization, especially a traditionalist like the Associated Press, to deal with the free nature of social media.
âI want to live in a world where people with jobs know the rules and the boundaries and they are extremely clear,â said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, professor of communications and director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. .
This is especially important at the AP, which is the foundation of objectivity and fairness in the news industry, she said. The agency, which is celebrating its 175th anniversary, does not traffic opinions.
âAP is in the realm of factual journalism,â news executives said in the memo. âThis is who we are. We have these values ââto ensure we maintain our position as a source of unbiased information and to protect our journalists. “
PA culture and social media have never been a comfortable mix. The AP sells its news coverage to newspapers, digital and broadcast customers, and tells its reporters not to tweet the latest news until it is shared on the AP feed. which makes them a step slower than quick tweet competitors.
The AP’s social media rules state that journalists who share information with the opinions of others must make it clear that the opinions are not theirs. Reporting other news users or online news creators “may have a bad image of the AP and may one day interfere with a coworker’s ability to get important information from a source,” according to the rules .
The company even urges its journalists to “avoid sports teams, athletes and celebrities who talk about trash.”
The letter signed by the PA journalists makes it clear that the incident caused deep injuries.
“The lack of communication … gives us no certainty that one of us could not be next, sacrificed without explanation,” they said. âIt has left our colleagues – especially emerging journalists – wondering how we treat our own, what culture we embrace and what values ââwe really stand for as a company.
The PA memo was signed by 10 news executives, not including editor-in-chief Sally Buzbee, who begins next month as editor-in-chief of the Washington Post. The AP said Buzbee was not involved in the Wilder case since she transferred day-to-day responsibilities to others by taking the job.