The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press are tangentially related. Both are vaunted mainstays of the "mainstream media." Both are respected in journalism circles for providing excellent reporting. Then why are both making such sophomoric mistakes in the emerging media world?
Let's take the case of the Wall Street Journal first. Owned by the same people who drove MySpace into the ground, it's been slow to embrace social media, but now plans on starting its own Linked In competitor? After not even fully practicing social media on their own Linked In page, now the Wall Street Journal wants to reinvent the wheel? Leaves me shaking my head.
WSJ's social media policy also is curious, if not laughable. It's clearly written by lawyers and HR people who have no clue about the social media space. It basically tells everyone how to protect the Wall Street Journal, without even touching upon how to be effective and use the space to the WSJ's advantage. They missed the entire point of social media.
Today, I read that Wall Street Journal reporters are no longer going to honor embargoes unless it is given an exclusive. (For my non-PR readers, an "embargo" is a piece of news that is shared with a news source under the pre-agreed condition that the news source will keep from reporting that information for a set period of time) This is the WSJ's way of taking its ball and going home. It's a very baby-ish way of saying, "We don't think we need to work as hard as everyone else for our stories. If you don't come to us first and give us an exclusive, then we won't print your story at all." Waaaaaa! My guess is they'll end up losing more stories than they gain.
Now, my favorite aging news wire service, the Associated Press. Notice I did not use the AP logo, lest I be sued. They are starting to charge bloggers who use more than five words from their stories! They actually have a chart showing how much they will charge. Last week, a blogger conducted an experiment. He "bought" a Thomas Jefferson quote from the AP (which they have no right to charge for, since it has been in the public domain for centuries). The AP purchase bot wasn't even sophisticated enough to know the difference between the quote and its own material.
According to AP's arcane rules, a blogger cannot even site an AP article and give it full attribution with the post. The ability to comment on material in the news and in online sources already in the public domain is the backbone of social media. By issuing a series of silly assaults on the blogosphere, the AP has instead unleashed a torrent of ridicule upon itself. It should have instead helped bloggers spread its material and helped bloggers properly attribute the material. Most bloggers already do that, but a gentle reminder to offenders would have gone over far better than the campaign of shock and awe that they're running now. The last time I checked, social media people are far less expensive to hire than lawyers.