Open Letter to AP

As employees of The Associated Press, at all levels and across the globe, we strongly believe in our organization’s stated commitment to fairness and advancing the power of facts. Journalists demand transparency from the subjects of our reporting and seek to hold the powerful accountable.

That’s why we strongly disapprove of the way the AP has handled the firing of Emily Wilder and its dayslong silence internally. We demand more clarity from the company about why Wilder was fired. It remains unclear — to Wilder herself as well as staff at large — how she violated the social media policy while employed by the AP.

We are also concerned about the ramifications of this decision for newsroom morale and AP’s credibility.

Wilder was a young journalist, unnecessarily harmed by the AP’s handling and announcement of its firing of her. We need to know that the AP would stand behind and provide resources to journalists who are the subject of smear campaigns and online harassment. As journalists who cover contentious subjects, we are often the target of people unhappy with scrutiny. What happens when they orchestrate a smear campaign targeting another one of us? Interest groups are celebrating their victory and turning their sights on more AP journalists. They have routinely made journalists’ identities subject to attack. Once we decide to play this game on the terms of those acting in bad faith, we can’t win.

This episode has caused the public to question the credibility of our reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which does a great disservice to our courageous journalists in Gaza — who have already greatly suffered this month — and in Israel. The amount of recrimination the AP has been subjected to online and in the news media also damages our reputation with our sources and audience on all subjects. The lack of clarity on the violations of the social media policy has made AP journalists afraid to engage on social media — often critical to our jobs — in any capacity.

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While firings are rarely transparent, AP chose to name Wilder publicly. The lack of communication since then about Wilder’s firing and the circumstances surrounding it gives us no confidence that any one of us couldn’t be next, sacrificed without explanation. It has left our colleagues — particularly emerging journalists — wondering how we treat our own, what culture we embrace and what values we truly espouse as a company.

We ask that you reckon with this openly and support your staff by providing the following:

  • Clarity about the disciplinary process used for Wilder, including which social media posts warranted termination and why.
  • A forum to discuss what AP deems best social media practices for its journalists. It’s important that the AP and its employees can articulate where the lines are drawn.
  • A clear commitment to and playbook for supporting staff targeted by harassment campaigns.
  • The formation of a diverse committee to update the AP’s social media policy to support evidence-based, nuanced social posting.

We hope the institution that we serve with bravery and tenacity every day will join us in charting a more equitable future.

Signed,

Michael Hill, Albany
Marina Villeneuve, Albany
Jeff Amy, Atlanta
Bill Barrow, Atlanta
Kate Brumback, Atlanta
Shameka Dudley-Lowe, Atlanta
R.J. Rico, Atlanta
Sudhin Thanawala, Atlanta
Sophia Tulp, Atlanta
Michael Warren, Atlanta
Paul Weber, Austin
Jim Vertuno, Austin
Dake Kang, Beijing
Sam McNeil, Beijing
Emily Wang Fujiyama, Beijing
Huizhong Wu, Beijing
Jimmy Golen, Boston
Michael Harris, Boston
Nariman El-Mofty, Cairo
Lee Keath, Cairo
John Raby, Charleston (W.Va.)
Annie Ma, Charlotte
Herbert G. McCann, Chicago
Justin Myers, Chicago
Noreen Nasir, Chicago
Andy Seligman, Chicago
Lindsey Tanner, Chicago
Patty Nieberg, Colorado
Michelle Liu, Columbia
Farnoush Amiri, Columbus
Jake Bleiberg, Dallas
Kat Stafford, Detroit
Noah Trister, Detroit
Aya Batrawy, Dubai
Thomas Hartwell, Egypt
Felicia Fonseca, Flagstaff
James LaPorta, Florida
Terry Spencer, Florida
Iris Samuels, Helena
Juan A. Lozano, Houston
John Mone, Houston
Emily Wagster Pettus, Jackson
Rogelio V. Solis, Jackson
Leah Willingham, Jackson
Jerome Delay, Johannesburg
Andrew DeMillo, Little Rock
Lucy Smee, London
Stefanie Dazio, Los Angeles
Beth Harris, Los Angeles
Marcela Isaza, Los Angeles
Angeliki Kastanis, Los Angeles
Amanda Myers, Los Angeles
Ryan Pearson, Los Angeles
Freida Frisaro, Miami
Adriana Gomez Licon, Miami
Lynne Sladky, Miami
Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan
Steve Megargee, Milwaukee
Mohamed Ibrahim, Minneapolis
Robin McDowell, Minneapolis
Helen Wieffering, Minneapolis
Jim Heintz, Moscow
Kimberlee Kruesi, Nashville
Travis Loller, Nashville
Teresa M. Walker, Nashville
Yirmiyan Arthur, New Delhi
Aniruddha Ghosal, New Delhi
Altaf Qadri, New Delhi
Sheikh Saaliq, New Delhi
Geoff Mulvihill, New Jersey
Mae Anderson, New York
Thalia Beaty, New York
Cathy Bussewitz, New York
Candice Choi, New York
Anne D’Innocenzio, New York
Courtney Dittmar, New York
Larry Fenn, New York
Nicky Forster, New York
Deepti Hajela, New York
Swayne Hall, New York
Shoun Hill, New York
Josh Housing, New York
Hillel Italie, New York
Rob Jagodzinski, New York
Arijeta Lajka, New York
Jennifer Lehman, New York
Bebeto Matthews, New York
Karen Matthews, New York
Andrew Milligan, New York
Aaron Morrison, New York
Jim Mustian, New York
Alexandra Olson, New York
Joe Paschke, New York
Joseph Pisani, New York
Ricardo Reif, New York
Mike Rezendes, New York
Sophia Rosenbaum, New York
Matt Sedensky, New York
Jake Seiner, New York
Helina Selemon, New York
Mallika Sen, New York
Michael Sisak, New York
Patrick Sison, New York
Ken Sweet, New York
Seth Wenig, New York
Julia Weeks, New York
Kathy Young, New York
David Porter, Newark
Rachel La Corte, Olympia
Margery Beck, Omaha
Mike Schneider, Orlando
Paul Davenport, Phoenix
Astrid Galvan, Phoenix
Jude Joffe-Block, Phoenix
Cheyanne Mumphrey, Phoenix
Suman Naishadham, Phoenix
Terry Tang, Phoenix
Patrick Whittle, Portland (Maine)
Matt O’Brien, Providence
Sophia Eppolito, Salt Lake City
Lindsay Whitehurst, Salt Lake City
Elliot Spagat, San Diego
Josh Dubow, San Francisco
Camille Fassett, San Francisco
Barbara Ortutay, San Francisco
Lisa Baumann, Seattle
Tim Booth, Seattle
Sally Ho, Seattle
Ali Swenson, Seattle
Manuel Valdes, Seattle
Juwon Park, Seoul
Stephen Groves, South Dakota
Nicholas K. Geranios, Spokane
Bobby Caina Calvan, Tallahassee
Stephen Wade, Tokyo
Matthew Barakat, Virginia
Mike Balsamo, Washington
Ned Barker, Washington
Lynn Berry, Washington
Seth Borenstein, Washington
Tracy Brown, Washington
Bob Burns, Washington
Marty Crutsinger, Washington
Kelly Daschle, Washington
Lisa Dwyer-Shapiro, Washington
Hannah Fingerhut, Washington
Marcy Gordon, Washington
Jenny Kane, Washington
Ellen Knickmeyer, Washington
Christina Larson, Washington
Will Lester, Washington
Nomaan Merchant, Washington
Michelle Minkoff, Washington
Kati Perry, Washington
Chris Rugaber, Washington
Rosalba Ruíz, Washington
Mark Sherman, Washington
Darlene Superville, Washington
Kevin Vineys, Washington
Susan Walsh, Washington

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