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Posts Tagged ‘Associated Press’

Tom Kent, linked from his Twitter avatar

called yesterday for detailed practical advice on making ethical decisions in today’s journalism. After I posted, I emailed the people I mentioned in the post, inviting them to respond. This is the response from Associated Press Standards Editor Tom Kent, who is leading an ethics initiative of the Online News Association:

Steve, you raise some excellent points about where we stand in the ethics conversation. Sometimes, as you suggest, we’re a little too philosophique, thinking big thoughts without the concrete examples that would make them immediately useful. Meanwhile, we’re trying to write ethical codes for a profession that’s in the process of splitting into some distinctly different philosophies.

However much we agree on certain unifying concepts (tell the truth, don’t plagiarize, don’t take money to skew your stories), after that we start to differ widely. You referred to the contrast between those who think it’s fine to write from a certain political point of view (as long as you’re transparent about it) and those who favor an updated version of objectivity and neutrality (find my defense of that here). There are disparate points on view on many other questions. (more…)

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I need to correct a correction about whether and how news brands are allowed to post Associated Press photos on Facebook: You can’t.

My post last month about effective Facebook engagement originally said that you couldn’t post AP photos on Facebook. I should have nailed this down at the time and linked to a source, but I didn’t. This was something I had heard a few different times from different sources and I just mentioned it as a fact from my personal knowledge, but didn’t verify, as I should have.

Someone (I can’t recall who) challenged that in questioning in a webinar, so I checked with Tim Rasmussen, assistant managing editor of photography at the Denver Post, whom I considered our most knowledgeable person at Digital First Media on photography matters. Tim sent me this correction, (lightly edited) which I added to the blog:

If you have the rights to AP images you can use them on Facebook and Pinterest to promote your content. Always check the special instructions and to be safe use only their staff or STR images. But you can do it. You cannot publish any Getty images to external source, but if you do a Facebook update that pulls in a Getty image as a thumbnail, that is OK though.

At a subsequent webinar, Annette Arrigucci, Home Page Editor for the El Paso Times, said she had understood from the AP that we couldn’t use AP photos in social media.

I asked Tim to clarify, and Annette sent this email from Dale Leach, AP Regional Director — Central:

While the policy on social media is evolving, here is the relevant section from our current policy manual:

Promotional uses:

1. If the third-party entity makes claims to the content, i.e. Facebook or Twitter, then use is limited to linking back to a customer site — headline, summary and thumbnail.

2. Aggregation/ Social Networking News Feeds are limited to:

a. News story headlines up to 15 words. Use of summaries may be negotiated and would be no more than up to 30 words (each headline and summary together comprising a “Headline”).

b. Photos can be no more than one low resolution Image per headline. “Thumbnail” versions of such Images may not be displayed at dimensions greater than 1.8 inches by 1.2 inches, resolutions greater than 130 pixels by 84 pixels, and at files sizes greater than 50 kilobytes.

3. Social Networking News Feeds must include a hyperlink back to the full text of a corresponding AP news story on member’s mobile application.

Tim doublechecked with AP and confirmed the policy was as Dale stated:

I was misinformed of AP policy. I had been told by New York that we can use their images on FB, but that policy since has changed.

I asked Dale if it was OK to quote the email in my blog and he asked me to hold off until he could check again with AP headquarters in New York: “My information is barely a month old, but this as you might expect is evolving.”

Hurricane Sandy understandably caused some delays in Dale getting a response from New York. Dale replied Saturday with more clarification:

1) We do not allow posting of AP photos on Pinterest. They do not recognize our copyright. You can find AP images on Pinterest, but that is without AP permission.

2) On Facebook, current policy says photos can be used but only as thumbnails and must link back to the member site.

3) We are indeed working on more specific guidelines on photos, given the many uses members or customers have asked us about. We’ll be happy to share those with you when they are available.

So that’s the triple-checked, clarified, verified AP policy: Don’t post AP photos on Facebook, except the thumbnails that Facebook pulls in when you post a link in a status update.

If that changes, I’ll update. But for now, newsrooms should not post AP photos on Facebook or Pinterest.

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I have added three updates, marked in bold, since posting this originally.

Aggregation has become a dirty word in much of journalism today.

Bill Keller, former editor of the New York Times, last year wrote: “There’s often a thin line between aggregation and theft.”

Patrick Pexton, Washington Post ombudsman, in an April 20 column called plagiarism “a perpetual danger in aggregated stories.”

Actually, aggregation has a long, proud and ethical history in journalism. If you’re an old-school journalist, don’t think Huffington Post or Drudge when you think about aggregation; think AP. The Associated Press is primarily largely an aggregation service*, except that it its members pay huge fees for the privilege of being aggregated (and for receiving content aggregated from other members).

The New York Times and Washington Post also have long histories of aggregation. In my years at various Midwestern newspapers, we reported big local and regional stories that attracted the attention of the Times, Post and other national news organizations. Facts we had reported first invariably turned up in the Times and Post stories without attribution or with vague attribution such as “local media reports.” I don’t say that critically. When I was a reporter and editor at various Midwestern newspapers, we did the same thing with facts we aggregated from smaller newspapers as we did regional versions of their local stories.

My point isn’t to criticize these traditional newspapers, just to note that aggregation isn’t a new practice just because it’s a fairly new journalism term. It’s one of many areas where journalism practices and standards are evolving, and I believe standards are actually improving in most cases.

After the Washington Post case, Elana Zak asked me and others if journalists needed to develop guidelines for aggregation.

I’m happy to contribute to that conversation with some thoughts about aggregation. I’ll start with discussing what I mean by aggregation (and its cousin or sibling, curation):

(more…)

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Journalists hate few things more than buzzwords. Many of us regard ourselves as guardians of the language (as if protecting the First Amendment and being watchdogs of the powerful weren’t enough guard duties). Buzzwords feel to many purists as some kind of assault on the language.

Washington Post ombudsman Patrick B. Pexton writes scornfully of my pursuit in his column today:

This is what “engagement” — the buzzword of media theorists and marketers — is all about. It’s using Twitter and Facebook to build a tribe or family of followers, even disciples, who will keep reading you.

I won’t try here to set Pexton straight on what engagement is all about, though my earlier post explaining community engagement might educate him a bit. What I want to address here is the widespread dismissal of new terminology by my fellow veteran journalists.

(more…)

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My Sunday post about the APME board’s use of Twitter drew a detailed, thoughtful response from APME board member Carole Tarrant.

Carole, editor of the Roanoke Times, had prompted the Sunday post with a tweet from a meeting of the Associated Press Managing Editors. She responded in a comment to the original blog post. But, recognizing that the comment will not receive as much attention as the original post, I wanted to call attention to it in a separate post. She put a lot of thought into her response and I thought it deserved more attention than blog comments sometimes get. I also wanted to respond to it. (more…)

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I woke up in the middle of the night and was having trouble getting back to sleep, so I checked Twitter. “Earthquake” was a trending topic, so I clicked.

Hundreds of tweets reported an earthquake in Indonesia, causing buildings to sway in Jakarta. Twitter was reporting location, near Java, and magnitude, 7.3, and reporting on a tsunami warning. Not a peep from Google News or AP. When I searched “earthquake” in Google News, I got older quakes. (more…)

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A mistaken matter-of-fact statement in an Associated Press story launched Chris O’Brien on an insightful blog post that had little to do with the original story.

In the same way, a statement in Chris’s post launched me on this post, which will start out in a different direction from his blog.

The AP story, about Microsoft, said, “If it doesn’t make the right calculation, the software maker could find itself in the same position as newspapers that gave online content away and now are struggling to replace print revenue.”

Chris, contributing to the MediaShift blog, wrote: “That second line is almost a throwaway, written with no attribution. That means that the notion has officially entered into conventional wisdom: Local newspapers screwed up by giving away for free the content everyone used to pay to consume.” (more…)

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When I read the Associated Press “Protect, Point, Pay” plan, I think of the Hummer.

General Motors thought it was moving forward when it trotted out the massive sport-utility version of a military vehicle. The Hummer represented a lot of smart work by a lot of engineers and GM sold a lot of Hummers. It carried on a GM tradition of massive vehicles under the Cadillac, Buick and Oldsmobile brands. But how did the Hummer work out in the long run? How’s GM doing today? In a world threatened by climate change and in a nation dependent on oil from unstable regions, the Hummer was simply the wrong move.

I think “Protect, Point, Pay” may get some traction with desperate newspaper owners who want more protection and pay. It has some good features with smart engineering. But it’s simply the wrong move. (more…)

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The Associated Press is giving me an uneasy feeling again.

I want to read the full AP “Plan for Reclaiming Content Online” for myself before I draw firm conclusions. I first read of it at the Eastern Iowa Airport this afternoon on the Nieman Journalism Lab blog entry by Zach Seward. Zach acknowledges that he’s just starting to analyze the seven-page briefing, which was sent to members. He will post further blog entries on the plan and eventually will post the full plan.

I’m writing this post from Denver International Airport. If I were at work, I would inquire of colleagues and try to get a copy of it and read and react more knowledgeably. I will do that, but I want to react quickly to what Zach has reported. The report drew a swift and mostly critical response on Twitter and I want to contribute to that immediate conversation in more than tweets, though I certainly did that. The problem with commenting quickly is that I have to write this long caveat that I don’t fully know what I’m writing about yet. If any of these impressions change on full examination, I will note them.

Let’s start with a positive statement: From what I can see, this plan reflects more understanding of the digital world than earlier AP statements. Dean Singleton’s blustery warning last spring that AP would seek legal and legislative remedies for “misappropriation” of members’ stories showed a complete lack of insight about the link economy. The more recent plan to protect AP content by use of a digital “wrapper” fell flat as AP’s own explanations of its intent and use conflicted. (more…)

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For all of my career and far beyond, the Associated Press has existed to serve the interests of the newspaper industry. For most of that time, AP has served our interests well.

When our readers needed us to provide national and world news, stock tables and coverage of sports beyond our own markets, AP developed a cost-efficient way to provide that content and fill our huge newspapers. It was a great relationship. AP contributed to and shared in our success while we racked up profit margins way beyond our best advertisers’. (more…)

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One of the first lessons I learned in chess was that the best defense is a good offense.

In team sports, a defense can keep the other team from scoring and win a championship. But chess has two points: you try to keep your king alive and you try to capture the opponent’s king. The best you can do without going after the other king is a stalemate. I’m far from a chess master, but experience has taught me that I will win more games by attacking my opponent’s king than by building a protective circle around my king.

Media companies need to learn this lesson. Both Attributor and the Associated Press plan to protect its members’ content (which the AP told Danny Sullivan it was no longer bothering to explain, speaking of protective circles), are efforts to protect our king. (more…)

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