Journalists taken aback by AP’s tweets about pharmaceutical company

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Journalists on Twitter were surprised, even dismayed, on Tuesday when tweets from The Associated Press prompted followers to “Visit AstraZeneca’s YouTube channel.”

I asked Paul Colford, AP’s director of media relations, about the “Sponsored Tweets.” His response to me – and several others who had questions – is that this is nothing new and other news outlets are doing it, too.

The Associated Press began using “Sponsored Tweets” in January in conjunction with the International CES (consumer electronics show). The press release announcing the “innovative advertising” says the tweets would be provided by the advertiser and handled by staff outside the AP newsroom:

The AP developed internal guidelines in recent months so that it may build new business models in the new media landscape without compromising its newsroom values and principles.

A more in-depth piece on the Muck Rack blog about the venture provides further insight into why the AP is using them and how they are generated. In the post, Ken Detlet, the AP’s vice president of digital advertising, said “It’s a useful tool, when used tactfully, to promote meaningful content.”

We’ve gathered a sampling of reactions from journalists and we’re interested in hearing from our readers. Is labeling them as “Sponsored Tweets” enough? Do you think this will become more prevalent? What would be your reaction to seeing such tweets in your stream? Did you know that AP and other news organizations are including advertising in their tweets? Use the comment section to share your thoughts.

Saerom Yoo, a reporter at The Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore.:

Blythe Bernhard, a health and medical reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Will Yong, an associate producer with Al Jazeera’s “Listening Post:”

Annie Lowrey, an economic policy reporter for The New York Times:

Jane McManus, a sportswriter with ESPNNewYork.com and ESPNW:

Ben Popken, a writer and editor with NBC News:

2 thoughts on “Journalists taken aback by AP’s tweets about pharmaceutical company

  1. Pingback: AP sorprende a periodistas promocionando marcas a través de Twitter | Clases de Periodismo

  2. Carolyn Davis Cockey

    For the sake of argument–why the shock and horror? Do we now freak out when ads appear on newspaper pages adjacent to articles, interspersed between NPR stories, as skyscrapers and sidebars on webpages? As sponsored posts on Facebook? Advertising has always followed the eyeballs–what’s really new here people?

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