Last week, we told you about the Associated Press’ guidelines on social media that, basically, told staff that they couldn’t share their personal opinions online for fear that it might reflect badly on the AP. After outcry online over the issue, the AP has released an updated set of guidelines to allow for more freedom of opinion… well, almost.
The new guidelines still state that “AP employees must refrain from declaring their views on contentious public issues in any public forum and must not take part in demonstrations in support of causes or movements. This includes liking and following pages and groups that are associated with these causes or movements,” but the guidelines now offer the following:
“Sometimes AP staffers ask if they’re free to comment in social media on matters like sports and entertainment. The answer is yes, with a couple of reasonable exceptions.
First, trash-talking about anyone (or team or company or celebrity) reflects badly on staffers and the AP. Assume your tweet will be seen by the target of your comment. The person or organization you’re deriding may be one that an AP colleague is trying to develop as a source.
Second, if you or your department covers a subject — or you supervise people who do — you have a special obligation to be even-handed in your tweets. Whenever possible, link to AP copy, where we have the space to represent all points of view.”
So now AP employees are at least allowed some personal opinions on the internet. Well, as long as those opinions fit a pre-existing set of conditions and decisions. It’s a start…?
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.