AP's Carvin: News Battle Near For Twitter, FB
Eric Carvin, social media editor for the AP, says both platforms are expressing a keener interest in news and, potentially, news partnerships, and that smart organizations will capitalize on this.
In an interview with NetNewsCheck, Carvin discusses potential news moves from those social platforms, along with the sleeper potential of Google Plus. He says the AP’s top priority for social media is as a newsgathering tool, and that responsibility for social monitoring is a distributed — not centralized — endeavor within the organization. He also worries over irresponsible practices in social newsgathering and the damage they might have for the news industry and the many users sharing news content on social platforms.
An edited transcript:
Most news organizations use social media to drive traffic to their sites, yet AP content appears mostly on other media companies' sites. So why engage in social media? Are you driving audience to an AP news site, apps or video player? Or if the goal isn't driving audience, then what is it?
Driving traffic is not job one for us when it comes to social media. It makes us a little unusual, but we are not primarily in the direct to consumer business. We have some consumer products, most notably AP Mobile, and to a certain extent social is inherently a direct to consumer activity. We do link to some digital platforms that we control, and there's a little bit of revenue involved. But we make the vast majority of our money by syndication and through membership fees as we always have.
It's a space where you have to be to make sure that you're relevant as a news organization. Journalistically, the value above all else is the more relevant we are in the social space, both as a news organization with our institutional accounts and the individual accounts of our journalists, the more likely we are to be able to cultivate that next important source or get that next important tip. So it feeds back into the journalism.
TV stations get the vast majority of their social media audience from Facebook. Is this true for AP?
For us, Twitter is the strongest platform by far. A lot of this may have to do with some very specific things about AP. We're approaching 3 million followers on Twitter. On Facebook we're somewhere around 150,000-160,000. Those accounts were started around the same time.
A lot has to do with us being in the wholesale business. A lot of people who are just ordinary news consumers might not necessarily know what AP is. They likely consume our content, but it's through other news organizations. On Facebook, people tend to follow the page of an organization or company that they're passionate about. In some ways, the more direct to consumer news organizations are more likely to encourage people to like their pages or get them more involved because they're just going to have more of a direct role in their lives.
A lot of people are on Twitter just to get information, and plenty of people realize that we're the primary source of a lot of that information or the first reporting it. All that they care about is they're getting their news content.
Are all AP reporters required to engage in social media? Are they required to engage in any specific platforms?
We don't have a blanket requirement for all AP journalists. My philosophy on this has been that our journalists are required to be the best journalists that they can be. If using social as part of their jobs helps them achieve that goal, then yes, they need to be using social.
There's some variability there — whether or not you should be tweeting with regularity, for example. To me it's more important that people are using social well to gather the news than tweeting and posting.
If there's a photographer who spends his day on the back of a truck taking pictures from a war zone, I couldn't care less if he's on social. His top priorities are staying safe and reporting the news. Even in more mundane situations, like everyone else we don't have unlimited resources and there are times where we need to tell people maybe social isn't the best priority for this particular story.
I've read that at least 850 AP staffers have Twitter accounts and AP itself has around 18 Twitter accounts. How do you keep track of all that? What does your desktop look like?
One thing is it's not all on me. There's an AP Twitter list of all of our staff, which makes it easier to keep an eye on, but I don't consider it to be a central part of my job to read what AP people are doing every minute of the day. Monitoring what AP folks are doing on Twitter is a very distributed process. Certainly their bosses and colleagues are aware of what they're tweeting, and in some ways there's sort of a collective awareness.