Articles about "Associated Press"

Lede of the day (it involves Rob Ford, deadmau5 and espresso)

Associated Press

Associated Press reporter Rob Gillies wrote a story about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford ordering five espressos, and its lede is phenomenal:

TORONTO (AP) – Famed DJ deadmau5 asked Rob Ford to go for a coffee run in his Ferrari and was jolted by the Toronto mayor’s order: five espressos in one cup.

But the last three lines of the story are remarkable as well.

Ford asks the teller twice if there’s five shots and later says he throws the “espressos back. I do.”

Ford admitted last year that he had smoked crack in a “drunken stupor.”

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8 digital media lessons from Poynter’s ‘Journalism and the Web@25′ panel

Journalists shared personal stories about a “Goosebumps” fan site, a three-year-old riding an elevator, and dropping computer science classes in college to illustrate how journalism has changed since 1989 — and needs to change more quickly today — at Poynter’s “Journalism and the Web@25″ event Tuesday night.

The panelists at the Ford Foundation in New York represented both new and old media, and television, print, and mobile:

  • Rob King, ESPN‘s senior vice president, SportsCenter and News
  • Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” and senior media correspondent for CNN Worldwide
  • Melissa Bell, co-founder, senior product manager and executive editor at
  • Kathleen Carroll, executive editor and senior vice president of The Associated Press
  • Jeff Jarvis, founder of and professor and director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism

Here’s a replay of the lively discussion (the event begins around the 8:50 mark) and some digital journalism lessons shared by panelists as they reflected on the past 25 years of the Web:

The time for urgency was then — and now

When it comes to digital transformation, “I think we probably all wish we had been faster, sooner,” said the AP’s Carroll. Jarvis made a similar point: “I wish I’d done a better job of scaring the shit out of people,” he said. “The problem is you don’t want to be Chicken Little, but what I was trying to say was we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got a lot of experimentation to do.”

Watch live streaming video from fordfound at

Audience expectations rise quickly

ESPN’s King told a story about his son, who as a three-year-old visited his grandparents’ house after the recent installation of an elevator. After three days, he returned home and asked King as he was being carried upstairs to bed, “where’s the elevator?”

“That is audience expectation in the digital age,” King said to laughter. “You see something one time, that’s it. It exists. It can’t not be anymore. The first time you ever pick up a tablet and watch a movie, you’re like, ‘hey, I can do this now.’”

Writers should embrace technology

Vox’s Bell started college as a computer science major but switched to literature. “I never went back to computer science classes, and I think it was a mistake to think of those as different things, to really think about my love of computers and my love of the sciences and maths as separate from writing,” she said. “It took me a long time to realize how intertwined they can be.”

We can’t afford separation between church and state

King used the example of Craiglist’s early days (founder Craig Newmark was in the audience) to illustrate the dangers of a newsroom unaware of what the business side is up to — and vice-versa. “We had business writers writing about Craigslist, story after story,” he said. “And nobody got up and walked over to the classified folks and said, ‘we got a problem.’”

“We felt as though it wasn’t our responsibility or it wasn’t our job to care about the building of the business, or to care about things that were germane to the business, and then we got surprised when the lights started going out.”

Brian Stelter, Melissa Bell and Rob King. (Photo by Serena Dai)

Brian Stelter, Melissa Bell and Rob King. (Photo by Serena Dai)

Community and conversation have power

CNN’s Stelter said his pivotal Web experience came in 1996, when he made a “Goosebumps” fan site. “My a-ha moment was when R.L. Stine, the author of the books, started reading the site and emailing me and answering questions.”

When Jarvis started blogging after 9/11, he said, “People started communicating with me, and I realized that the proper structure for media is a conversation among people, and that wasn’t the structure we had.”

Audiences have always wanted to engage, King argued: “People have been yelling at televisions during sports events for years.” Added Stelter: “Now we can hear them.”

Potential for news customization/personalization is unrealized

How far have we come in 25 years? Maybe not far enough, Stelter said: “I wish that when I landed at an airport in a new city that my phone would light up with options: ‘Here, sign up for the local paper, just $1 for one day. Here’s a live broadcast from the NBC affiliate, you can access it without jumping through hoops.’”

Added Stelter: “It just doesn’t feel to me like my technology knows me, and I don’t feel like these news outlets, who could get a buck or two from me at a time, know me either.” Jarvis made a similar point: “Waze knows where I live and I work. My newspaper doesn’t.”

Kathleen Carroll and Jeff Jarvis. (Photo by Serena Dai)

Kathleen Carroll and Jeff Jarvis. (Photo by Serena Dai)

News should serve audiences ‘anytime, anywhere’

“If there’s a big game we’ll cut a three-minute highlight for SportsCenter and we’ll cut a 30-second clip for the mobile space,” King said. “We know that if you’ve got a phone with limited LTE we can’t be sending a 6-minute 59-second, beautiful ’30 for 30′ short because that’s just not respectful of how you use that device. But we have to make that easy to access online or in the tablet space.”

One person’s theft is another person’s aggregation

“Yes, we have too many damn sites, especially in technology, too many TechCrunches that repeat and repeat and repeat until the Xerox gets so light you can’t read it anymore,” Jarvis said. But he defended purposeful attribution done right through linking as a key to good Web journalism, while Carroll said linking isn’t always sufficient to ensure original reporting gets the credit it deserves.

King argued that questions of aggregation ethics aren’t something readers care about: “That’s really an ‘us’ problem.” But Carroll said her worry is that “we will have so many people riffing off the facts that there won’t be enough people actually able to uncover the facts, whatever they are. And that is an audience issue, because we need reporters.”

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AP is reviewing its procedures after third revised tweet in a week

What’s going on with the AP Twitter account lately? After this masterpiece Wednesday:

The AP revised. Read more


NYT says its Gaza photos are real


The New York Times says Atlantic senior editor David Frum is incorrect to claim that some photos taken in Gaza last week were faked or staged. “David Frum’s claims are false,” Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy told Poynter. Frum sent several tweets last week claiming the photos were faked.

“We have a complete account from the photographer, Sergey Ponomarev, who arrived with two other photographers to a local hospital as ambulances began arriving with dead and wounded civilians following an Israeli military strike on the outskirts of Khan Younis,” Murphy writes in an email.

Ponomarev “witnessed the man covered in blood in this photo arrive in an ambulance with a badly wounded elderly man (who ultimately died),” Murphy writes. “He sent us 84 pictures in total that give a complete understanding of the events as they unfolded.”

The photography news site BagNews examined photos from The New York Times, Reuters and the Associated Press following Frum’s accusations. Frum started by linking to a post from Thomas Wictor, who made the case that photos of the scene from Reuters were staged.

Here’s how BagNews summed up the flap:

Comparing the Reuters portrait above (#2) with an AP photo from the hospital someone randomly sent to him (#6 below), Wictor noticed that the brothers in the portrait no longer had blood on their hands and face and concluded that there must be some Palestinian, as well as media trickery going on. Rather than submitting Wictor’s accusation of subterfuge to further review however, Frum not only took the accusations on faith but added the NY Times to the supposed conspiracy because the Times featured a similar portrait (#1) by one of its own photographers taken almost simultaneously to the Reuters photo (#2).

BagNews’ post offers a possible timeline of the photos and asks — is it possible the two men eventually washed the blood off their faces and hands?

In any case, I contacted Reuters for a statement and they wrote back:

“We’ve confirmed with our photographer that the man in the photo washed his hands and face after his father’s body was admitted to the hospital.”

In March of this year, Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon wrote about Reuters using activists as photographers in Syria. The company then told Poynter that there were no instances of staged photos “in Syria or elsewhere.” Read more

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 9.17.58 AM

The history of TMZ, FT’s mobile revenue rises

mediawiremorningGood morning. Almost there! Here are 10 or so stories.

  1. The problem with making a graphic about diversity in top newsroom positions over the years: “there isn’t really any racial diversity at all,” Manjula Martin writes. “Any way you click it, of the 183 top editors of mainstream English-language media outlets [Vijith] Assar counted here, one is a black man. Nine are white women (and two of them are Tina Brown).” (Scratch)
  2. Digital subscriptions up 33 percent at FT: Total circulation (677,000 across platforms) is up 13 percent over the first half of last year, FT parent Pearson reports in its half-year results. Mobile “now generates almost 50% of total traffic and 20% of new digital subscriptions,” and mobile ad revenue was up 9 percent. (Pearson) | But sales are down at Pearson, which will have cut 4,000 jobs through 2014. (Bloomberg News) | Related, from March: “How data from Financial Times readers lead to more readers and revenue” (Poynter)
  3. AP’s Gaza-based staff wins the news co-op’s “Beat of the Week” award: In one instance, Senior Managing Editor Mike Oreskes writes in a memo to staffers, photographer Hatem Moussa called colleagues to help and then alerted a Red Cross team after he heard a woman under rubble say, “I’m here under the shop. God please, I can’t breathe.” Rescuers later pulled her from the rubble as well as her husband and her niece. (AP)
  4. The history of TMZ: Anne Helen Petersen takes a long, fun look at the “well-oiled, money-making, gossip-generating machine” and asks whether it has “compromised the mission that set it apart from the rest of the gossip industry.” (BuzzFeed)
  5. NowThis News changes name to NowThis: The moniker tweak “lets the edit team focus on what’s trending on social channels,” Lucia Moses writes. (Digiday)
  6. Reddit’s live-blogging platform is out of beta: “RedditLive doesn’t have to be a publisher, though that’s technically what it is, but could be a really good source for you in the newsroom,” Karen Fratti writes. (10,000 Words)
  7. BuzzFeed corrects posts with swiped material: Three posts by viral politics editor Benny Johnson contained unattributed text, J.K. Trotter reports. (Gawker) | BuzzFeed EIC Ben Smith says Johnson will remain on staff. (Poynter) | On Wednesday, Johnson accused another publication of stealing his work, saying, “Repeat after me: Copying and pasting someone’s work is called ‘plagiarism’ (@bennyjohnson) | “Citing that tweet, Trotter told POLITICO: ‘I subscribe to Benny Johnson’s theory of plagiarism, under which Benny Johnson is guilty of plagiarism.’” (Politico)
  8. Why Kevin Sablan took a buyout from the OC Register: “I didn’t see our digital efforts move forward. I was happy that we hired dozens of new journalists. I was excited about new weekly community papers. I couldn’t believe how thick our paper had gotten. But I didn’t see any real advancement for our online subscribers.” (Almighty Link)
  9. Here’s today’s world news, edited by Kristen Hare: Al Jazeera correspondent Peter Greste is appealing his seven-year Egyptian jail sentence, Paul Farrell reported in The Guardian. Farrell reports that Greste plans to work with an Egyptian lawyer. | Journalists have been banned from covering fighting in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, according to a report from Reporters Without Borders. “Signed on 21 July by PRD “defence minister” Igor Strelkov and released yesterday, it is fuelling arbitrary arrests of journalists operating in the region.” | The Washington Post’s correspondent in Tehran is in government custody in Iran along with four other journalists, Ernesto Londoño reported Thursday in the Post. Jason Rezaian has worked for the Post since 2012, Londoño reported. | From The Province, published in Vancouver, Canada, a perfect Friday headline. (Front page courtesy Newseum.)


  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Joshua Topolsky, the co-founder and top editor of The Verge, will join Bloomberg as “the editor of a series of new online ventures,” Ravi Somaiya reported in The New York Times. He will be replaced by co-founder Nilay Patel, currently the managing editor of (Poynter) | Derl McCrudden has been named head of international video for the Associated Press. Formerly he was head of video newsgathering. Denise Vance, AP’s deputy director of U.S. video, has been named head of U.S. video and radio. Vaughn Morrison, former vice president for programming and production for TV Guide on Demand, has been named AP’s head of U.S. video production. (AP) | Jake Milstein has been promoted to news director of KIRO in Seattle. Previously, he was KIRO’s managing editor. ( | Simone Eli is a sports reporter and anchor at Houston’s KPRC. Previously, she was a sportscaster at WALA in Mobile, Alabama. (@Simone_Eli) | Alexandra Peers has been named culture editor at the New York Observer. Peers is “a veteran arts writer” and has been a reporter with The Wall Street Journal, Joe Pompeo writes. (Capital New York) | Indrani Sen, formerly an interim editor at Quartz, will be deputy news editor there. She’ll be joined at Quartz by Heather Landy, who will be Quartz’ global news editor. Formerly, Landy was editor in chief at American Banker. (Mediabistro) | Job of the day: The Lamar Ledger in Southeast Colorado is looking for a news editor. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs)| Send Ben your job

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C-3PO, R2-D2

AP’s robot-written stories have arrived

AP earnings-report stories written with automation technology have begun to appear. Earnings reports for Hasbro Inc., Honeywell International Inc. and GE, among others, bear the legend “This story was generated automatically by Automated Insights ( using data from Zacks Investment Research.”

AP announced at the end of June that it would start using the technology to produce significantly more earnings report stories.

Reached by phone, AP Managing Editor Lou Ferrara said the stories began to appear around the middle of July, and all the ones you’re seeing right now have been checked by human eyes, as was the plan. “The tap isn’t fully open yet,” he said. Some stories were published just as Automated Insights filed them, others have had a few “bugs here and there,” Ferrara said.

What I’m trying to get out of is the data processing business,” Ferrara told Poynter earlier this month. “I can’t have journalists spending a ton of time data processing stuff. Instead I need them reporting.” Read more


How Jim Brady plans to make money in local

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Was SI’s LeBron James scoop legit? Sam Kirkland rounds up some thinkination from thinkinators and notes that SND’s Rob Schneider said the NYT’s celebrated sports section front on Saturday was inaccurate — James hadn’t signed at the time. (Poynter) | The “item did move on the sports AP wire, exactly as presented,” Margaret Sullivan writes. “I guess I can see his point, but it’s too literal,” Benjamin Hoffman, who designed the page, told her. (NYT) | James decided to go to SI rather than ESPN because 2010′s “The Decision” “upset America’s collective stomach and spoiled his reputation as a basketball god,” Robert Weintraub writes. “The average fan could read his moving, sincere announcement on and subconsciously think, Maybe it was ESPN’s fault, not LeBron’s, all along.” (CJR) | The “trade rumor — shorthand here for any offseason transaction news — has become the dominant form of NBA journalism.” (Grantland)
  2. How Jim Brady plans to make money in local: His Philly news startup will use a “mix of advertising, events and memberships,” Joe Pompeo reports. Advertisers will have options beyond display ads: “A security company might sponsor a public-safety discussion group, for instance.” (Capital)
  3. NPR “downgrades” ombudsman job: The next occupant of that seat will focus “on fact gathering and explanation, not commentary or judgment,” Jay Rosen reports. “In my view, NPR is far stronger than this short-sighted and half-assed decision suggests. It has nothing to fear from an empowered ombudsman.” (PressThink)
  4. BuzzFeed articles disappear: After a “review of our most updated policies and standards,” BuzzFeed “edited some posts, removed certain posts and left other posts as is.” (Gawker) | BuzzFeed gave some early, senior employees the ability to go back and memory-hole articles. (Poynter)
  5. News orgs’ investments in race beats pays off: AP race and ethnicity reporter Jesse Holland broke the story of black Democrats supporting Sen. Thad Cochran after several reporters “had noticed advertisements in two of the state’s black newspapers, but no one knew who was behind them,” Tracie Powell reports. “I picked up the phone and called the black newspaper and asked who placed the ad,” Holland told Powell. “I’m not sure why no one else thought to do that.” (CJR)
  6. Twitter is 8 years old. Here’s Biz Stone‘s announcement of “Twittr”‘s website from July 15, 2006: ” It’s fun to use because it strips social blogging down to it’s essence and makes it immediate.”

  7. Following in Chrystia Freeland’s footsteps? Former Toronto Star reporter Allan Thompson is running for parliament. (Toronto Star)
  8. Lumberjacks’ revenge: Newspaper reporter makes “endangered jobs” list (Poynter) | Employment at TV stations slips a little. And “Total radio news employment is up this year versus last year, but not in the way radio news people would like.” (RTDNA)
  9. “This is a publicity stunt for sure, but one with heart”: Fans react to Archie Andrews‘ impending death, saving a gay friend. (AP) | “Archie is actually still alive in the Archie series set in the present day” and there’s a series where he’s a zombie, too. (Vulture)
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: David Plotz is “dropping the mic” as editor of Slate, leaving his former deputy editor, Julia Turner, in charge. Said Plotz of his decision: “What am I gonna do, die here?” (Poynter) | Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, he of the leaked New York Times Innovation Report, has been named senior editor for strategy at the Times. (Poynter) | Maria Russo will be children’s books editor of The New York Times Book Review in August. (@PamelaPaulNYT) | Amanda Kost, an investigative journalist at KMGH in Denver, will be a national investigative reporter at the Scripps Washington Bureau. (Scripps News) | Alisyn Camerota is now an anchor at CNN. She was previously a co-host of America’s News Headquarters at Fox News. (CNN) | John Homans is leaving his job as New York Magazine executive editor to join Bloomberg Politics, a vertical led by “Game Change” authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. (Capital) | David Sirota joins International Business Times as a senior writer. (Digiday) | Marta Tellado, vice president for global communications at the Ford Foundation, has been named chief executive of Consumer Reports. She will replace Jim Guest, who became CEO and president in 2001. (New York Times) Want to meet LeBron James? The Northeast Ohio Media Group (which includes the Plain Dealer) is hiring a sports reporter. Get your résumés in! | Send Ben your job moves:

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Britain NSA Surveillance

Obama administration knew in advance about destruction of Guardian’s hard drives

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories. Want more roundups? We got ‘em! From Sam Kirkland: “Why are so many news organizations still worried about retweets by staffers?” From Kristen Hare: “Chinese journalists get a warning; press freedoms halt in South Sudan.”

  1. Obama administration knew British government planned to force Guardian to destroy hard drives with Snowden docs: AP scores emails with a FOIA request. “‘Good news, at least on this front,’ the current NSA deputy director, Richard Ledgett, said at the end of a short, censored email to then-NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander and others. The subject of that July 19, 2013, email was: ‘Guardian data being destroyed.’” (AP) | FLASHBACK: Video of Guardian editors destroying hard drives while technicians from the Brtitish intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) watched. (The Guardian)
  2. More Canadian papers close: Torstar’s Star Media Group will close Metro papers in Regina, Saskatchewan; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; and London, Ontario. 25 positions will go. (Financial Post) | Metro will still have papers in seven other Canadian cities and online editions in four more. Star Media Group President John Cruickshank: “This decision does not reflect any change in our commitment to Metro’s future, both in print in larger markets and in digital in all markets.” (The Canadian Press) | Earlier this month: Torstar shut down Toronto magazine The Grid. “The media landscape continues to be impossible for a start-up,” its editor-in-chief said. (Toronto Star) | “The Grid was not a startup.” (Craig Silverman)
  3. The smoking gun? “The last two Twitter accounts that the official @TeamLeBron account followed? @ohiodotcom and @AkronBeacon.” (@EliLanger) | “Twitter feed sprinkled with reporters landing in Gaza and Cleveland.” (@MickiMaynard) | Related: Nike paid for Benjamin Markovits to write a story about LeBron James. Then it had the piece killed. (Deadspin)
  4. George Clooney racks up another USA Today byline: He does not accept the Daily Mail’s apology. “[E]ither they were lying originally or they’re lying now.” (USA Today)
  5. Madison’s Isthmus changes hands: Former Onion executives Jeff Haupt and Craig Bartlet teamed with former Green Bay Packers lineman Mark Tauscher to buy Madison, Wisconsin, alt-weekly Isthmus. (Wisconsin State Journal) | Former Isthmus owner Vince O’Hern: “I die a little bit when I think of the large part of my life that I leave behind.” (Isthmus) | “Long live the publication with the funny name.” (Isthmus)
  6. Retweets aren’t endorsements at NYT: “I think Twitter users by now understand that a retweet involves sharing or pointing something out, not necessarily advocating or endorsing,” Times standards editor Philip Corbett says. (Poynter) | “Are NPR, the AP, and Reuters’s editorial reputations really so fragile that a 140-character tweet or retweet by a staffer can blow the whole thing down?” (Reuters)
  7. Don’t expect any reality shows about being a TV critic: “Some jobs are just too hideous to contemplate,” Mike Rowe says. (Capital)
  8. How hotels ditching print newspapers affects the recycling industry: “For every major hotel chain that made these changes, it would be like eradicating newspapers from a city like Akron, Ohio, Tacoma, Wash., Birmingham, Ala. or Des Moines, Iowa.” (Waste360)
  9. MSM Weed Watch: Here’s a very good interactive guide to medical marijuana strains. (Los Angeles Times) | “Like any great accessory, a flashy vaporizer pen can be a conversation starter.” (The New York Times) | Man featured on front page purchasing pot legally says he’s losing his job (The Spokesman Review, via Jim Romenesko)
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Julia Rubin will join, a fashion website. She was formerly online features editor for Teen Vogue. (@juliarubin) | Johana Bhuiyan will be a tech reporter at Buzzfeed. She was a digital media reporter at Capital New York. (Muck Rack) | Rick Green is managing editor for Bloomberg Industries. Formerly, he was a senior finance editor at Bloomberg. Andrew Thurlow is a real estate, sports and retail reporter for Jacksonville Business Journal. Formerly, he was a reporter for Automotive News. (Muck Rack) | Nathan Baca will be an investigative reporter at WBNS in Columbus, Ohio. He is currently a reporter at KLAS in Las Vegas. (Mediabistro) | Sarah Gilbert will be supervising senior editor of NPR’s Weekend Edition. She is currently managing editor of Marketplace. (FishbowlDC) | Rachel Dodes is Twitter’s partner manager for motion pictures. She was previously a film reporter for the Wall Street Journal. (FishbowlNY) | Amina Akhtar will be editorial director of She was formerly executive editor of Elle. (Adweek) | Megan Moser will be executive editor of the Manhattan (Kansas) Mercury. Formerly, she was the paper’s news editor. (AP) | Send Ben your job moves:

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Want more? Check out Sam Kirkland’s roundup of tech and social media news in Digital Day, and Kristen Hare’s roundup of journalism news outside the U.S. in MediaWireWorld. Read more


Retweets are endorsements at NPR and AP, but not at NYT

NPR is still worried that retweets can easily be misconstrued as endorsements, according to a memo from standards and practices supervising editor Mark Memmott obtained by Jim Romenesko.

According to Memmott, “despite what many say, retweets should be viewed AS endorsements.” He quoted from NPR’s ethics handbook:

“Tweet and retweet as if what you’re saying or passing along is information that you would put on the air or in a ‘traditional’ news story. If it needs context, attribution, clarification or ‘knocking down,’ provide it.”

The reiterated policy of treating every retweet as a message that could be dangerously misconstrued comes in light of an education blogger lamenting on an official NPR account that “only the white guys get back to me” on deadline. She later said it should have gone out on her personal account:

But that incident presents a separate issue from retweeting, say, a politician with an offensive viewpoint, so the fact that Memmott took this opportunity to reiterate the dangers of retweeting is a little puzzling. Besides, the policy doesn’t seem to give readers much credit for understanding how Twitter works. And it’s probably a little scary if you’re an NPR reporter trying to make the most of social media.

That said, NPR’s reiterated rules of the road are similar to what the Associated Press recommends in its social media guidelines [PDF]:

Retweets, like tweets, should not be written in a way that looks like you’re expressing a personal opinion on the issues of the day. A retweet with no comment of your own can easily be seen as a sign of approval of what you’re relaying.

These cautions apply even if you say on your Twitter profile that retweets do not constitute endorsements. Many people who see your tweets and retweets will never look at your Twitter bio.

In other words, AP seems to be saying, don’t avoid the infamous “RTs ≠ endorsements” disclaimer because it’s unnecessary hand-holding; avoid it because it’s insufficient hand-holding. Sree Sreenivasan has called the disclaimer a “useless crutch,” making a similar point: “RTs are implied endorsements. … The only way to make sure your tweets aren’t misconstrued is to add a few words before the material you’re retweeting.”

(An NPR spokesperson tells Poynter “there is no policy specifically regarding what to include or not in Twitter bios.” AP social media editor Eric Carvin has said the AP doesn’t require it: “I personally prefer to use the limited space in other ways.”)

The New York Times, meanwhile, has always offered a nice example of how to encourage smart social media use in the newsroom without codifying a long list of proscriptions and warnings. Here’s what Philip B. Corbett, associate managing editor for standards at the Times, told Poynter in an email:

In general, I think Twitter users by now understand that a retweet involves sharing or pointing something out, not necessarily advocating or endorsing. We just encourage our staffers to be mindful of the overall impression people will get from their tweets, so that their feed does not undermine their impartiality as journalists. That doesn’t mean they can’t pass along links and retweets that reflect a range of viewpoints.

That’s really not miles apart from NPR’s standard in essence: Just be smart. The Times’s Patrick LaForge, who launched the “RTs ≠ endorsements” craze, says the phrase makes him cringe now. But even the most ardent “RTs ≠ endorsements” haters realize retweets can sometimes send the wrong message; rejecting the notion that retweets imply endorsement unless you specify otherwise doesn’t mean it’s impossible to mislead.

As LaForge told BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel: “If I think a retweet is likely to confuse people about my viewpoint, or if there is some doubt about the accuracy of the original tweet, I add attribution, skepticism or other context. Or I skip it.”

Twitter might be full of land mines, but too many reporters still haven’t taken their first steps into the field. A scary memo about how easy it is to make a mistake on Twitter doesn’t really encourage the use of Twitter. And as PJ Vogt pointed out at On The Media, making a mistake on Twitter can sometimes be educational anyway — for you and your readers.

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Correction: A previous version of this post misspelled Mark Memmott’s last name. Read more


AP on robot reporters: ‘I can’t have journalists spending a ton of time data processing’

AP’s plan to automate stories about earnings reports is designed to make life easier for human journalists, not to replace them, AP Managing Editor Lou Ferrara said.

Twitter jokes about our new robot journalist overlords notwithstanding, automation technology isn’t coming for the stories most reporters are writing; in fact, the majority of AP’s software-generated business stories will be stories that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. AP anticipates moving 4,400 stories per quarter with the new technology, up from 300 per quarter before.

Ferrara, a member of Poynter’s National Advisory Board, said “several dozen reporters” will be impacted by automation because covering most business beats — retail, energy, airlines, you name it — requires covering quarterly earning statements throughout the year. But the new technology doesn’t mean humans won’t still participate in the process.

“We’re still going to cover earnings season,” he said. “What I’m trying to get out of is the data processing business. I can’t have journalists spending a ton of time data processing stuff. Instead I need them reporting.”

The less time reporters are required to crunch data, he said, the more time reporters will have to do the reporting it takes to make those numbers meaningful.

Transparent taglines

Automated stories will include a tagline citing Automated Insights, the company whose technology will power the stories, and Zacks Investment Research, which will provide the data. Ferrara said he hoped the stories will survive edits by AP member organizations. “We think it’s important that it’s out there out of full disclosure more than anything, but I can’t control every customer and member,” he said. “Zacks and Automated Insights understand that as well.”

Robbie Allen, CEO of Automated Insights, told Poynter in March that many of his clients don’t disclose which stories are generated by his company’s technology. “People are much more critical of automated content just because they want to find the bugs in the software,” Allen said at the time.

But including a note in stories might help normalize the technology, both for readers and for other journalists leery of it. “I just know as a journalist, the more information and transparency I can provide, the better,” Ferrara said.

Fully automated by Q4?

Beginning in July, AP will initially check automated stories before they are published. But the goal is to be fully automated by the end of the year. That means earnings stories, running 150-300 words, will be generated and distributed automatically without any humans in the middle.

Stories about major companies like Apple and Google will still receive plenty of human attention, with automation freeing up journalists to get to work providing context and deeper reporting more quickly. Most companies, of course, won’t receive human attention from the AP, but Ferrara’s hope is that some of the earnings reports AP could never cover before will be followed up on by subscriber news organizations where those companies are located.

Automation will likely lead to some cookie-cutter content, Ferrara acknowledged, but even human-generated earnings stories often end up that way. The idea is that it’s better to provide three paragraphs about a company than zero, particularly if those three paragraphs provide a jumping-off point for human journalists, at the AP or elsewhere.

Beyond business stories, Ferrara said he sees potential for the technology to tackle sports, like NCAA Division II and Division III events. Automated Insights has written individualized fantasy football reports and Chicago-based Narrative Science has written Little League recaps, so there’s potential to write about all kinds of underserved topics and beats — many of which reporters wouldn’t be clamoring to cover even if it were economically feasible.

“Anywhere where there’s data,” Ferrara said, “there’s clearly an opportunity here to look at how things are done.”

Correction: A previous version of this piece misspelled Lou Ferrara’s last name in one paragraph. Also, Automated Insights hasn’t written Little League recaps, but Narrative Science has.

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Previously: AP will use robots to write some business stories | ‘Robot’ to write 1 billion stories in 2014 — but will you know it when you see it? Read more