AP Recognizes Bloggers as News Sources – Finally

The Associated Press – the go-to organization for journalistic standards – has announced today that its staff will recognize bloggers as valid sources of news and credit them in their articles. This announcement comes from a smattering of policy changes designed to respond to “the age of the Web”, yet critics are raising their eyebrows at the seriously delayed timing of such a response to bloggers as respected media professionals. However, the fact that the AP recognizes bloggers – even if this recognition has already been given by many other respected media outlets – will likely give them more clout at events and more credence in their writing, two goals that bloggers have been fighting for since their early stages.

Bloggers have typically been looked down upon with disdain by traditional media, especially several years ago when the word blog was more synonymous with “journal” than “news source”. However, in the past few years, outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post have begun citing bloggers as new sources independent of AP guidelines.

Some critics are saying that the AP is slow to move towards accepting bloggers and other online news sources as credible. As one of the largest and most respected sources of news itself, the AP lagged behind for years in terms of how it used web content – particularly web content linked to anything “social” like blogging.

The letter from AP Senior Managing Editor Michael Oreskes that outlines the new stance towards bloggers begins with acknowledging that, “we should provide attribution whether the other organization is a newspaper, website, broadcaster or blog; whether or not it’s U.S. based; and whether or not it’s an AP member or subscriber.” It goes on to qualify this attribution with, “the attribution doesn’t always have to be at the start of a story or script; it can sometimes be two or three graphs down.”

Interestingly, this AP release deals only with blogs – not Facebook or Twitter. Twitter is known to be a relevant – if somewhat volatile – source of potential news-as-it-happens, exemplified by the Red Cross recently emphasizing the need to educate first responders on how to react to SMS and Twitter distress calls. Tweets can contain valuable information about disasters that otherwise would not reach the mainstream media. While Twitter and other social networks do have the potential to by hijacked by misinformation much more easily than an edited news source, the potential for breaking news is there, and the AP might want to state its policy towards these somewhat unconventional sources in the near future as well.