Two months after scolding its staffers for breaking a news story on Twitter before it reached the wire, The Associated Press has released an updated version of its social media guidelines.
While the clause that forbids AP employees from prematurely sharing news on social networks remains intact, there are some interesting takeaways from the revised guidelines, particularly those that concern journalists expressing their personal opinions online.
AP encourages all of its journalists to have social media accounts and recommends that they maintain one account per site, for both personal and professional use. Employees are permitted to express their opinions on social media; however, they “must refrain from declaring their views on contentious public issues.”
They are allowed to comment on less controversial issues, such as sports and celebrities, which in my opinion, leaves a gray area a bit too vast. All too often celebrities and athletes become the news, for better or worse (but usually for worse).
I commend the Associated Press for maintaining a comprehensive set of social media guidelines, but there are still many gray areas that remain. I don’t know if social networking will ever be free of subjectivity, especially when the media is involved, but the fact that the AP not only maintains but also takes the time to update its social media guidebook is a great sign.