AP tells its journalists: Be careful what you tweet on election night

The Associated Press has told staffers “not to blindly retweet what others may be saying” about election results on Tuesday night.” A memo from the news service’s standards and social media editors says: “If AP has not called a particular state or race, it’s because we have specifically decided not to, based on the expertise and data we have spent years developing. Therefore, we strongly discourage AP staffers from posting, tweeting or retweeting others’ calls. People view all of us as speaking for the AP.”

Colleagues,

AP’s election race calling is the gold standard of the industry. We are proud of our terrific record of accuracy in race calls — and just as proud when we wait to call a race because we’re not certain what the result will be.

On the night of the U.S. election, many news organizations will be putting out race calls based on their own criteria. If AP has not called a particular state or race, it’s because we have specifically decided not to, based on the expertise and data we have spent years developing. Therefore, we strongly discourage AP staffers from posting, tweeting or retweeting others’ calls. People view all of us as speaking for the AP. If we tweet another organization’s call, we may imply that we endorse the other organization’s decision. At worst, we may deceive the public by spreading bad information.

Carvin (left) and Kent

AP’s flagship Twitter feed, @AP, will be very active in reporting all calls that AP makes, as soon as they are sent on our wires. As the evening wears on, if we decide not to call some major races because we consider the result still uncertain, we will advise subscribers and post this on our @AP feed.

We encourage you to retweet and post AP’s careful race-calling and explanations, and not to blindly retweet what others may be saying. It would be akin to retweeting a story by a competitor when we know we have the story dead-to-rights ourselves.

Obviously, we must not publish to social networks speculation that AP is about to call any race before we call it.

Feel free to come forward with any questions.

Tom Kent, Standards Editor

Eric Carvin, Social Media Editor

* Earlier: AP memo tells staff not to taunt others for health care ruling screw-ups (jimromenesko.com)

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