A high importance e-mail went out to Associated Press employees early Wednesday morning to remind them of Twitter rules in the wake of staff arrests at yesterday’s local protests. “In relation to AP staff being taken into custody at the Occupy Wall Street story, we’ve had a breakdown in staff sticking to policies around social media and everyone needs to get with their folks now to tell them to knock it off,” went one version of the e-mail sent from on high, as obtained by Daily Intel. “We have had staff tweet – BEFORE THE MATERIAL WAS ON THE WIRE – that staff were arrested.”
The official rules note, “Don’t break news that we haven’t published, no matter the format.” (Reuters spells out the same idea plainly in their handbook: “Don’t scoop the wire.”) Instead of getting “caught in the moment,” the AP’s freewheeling tweeters are urged in the e-mail to run “sensitive official AP business” through editors and corporate communications. The AP’s social media guidelines were recently updated to insist, “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.”
As the wire reported — eventually — an AP reporter and a photographer were among at least six journalists arrested at Zuccotti Park yesterday.