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VOA Employees Grumble at Twitter Request

Requested PR duties seen as a tweet too far

Al Kamen’s “In the Loop” column in the Sept. 9 Washington Post highlighted a major dilemma felt by many Voice of America employees: Twitter.

According to Kamen, VOA journalists are “being asked to use their Twitter accounts to disseminate news releases and the like generated by the Voice of America public relations shop — and that has them worried that they could wind up as mouthpieces for their employer’s messages.”

This request was evidently sent to the reporting staff by an intern in the public relations office, which specified that it was not required.

Twitter in the last few years has taken off as a helpful tool for journalists.

Herbert Lowe wrote for Poynter this summer that, “Live tweeting is now a standard tool many journalists and news agencies use for breaking news.”

In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a reporter who doesn’t tweet as part of his or her job — famous CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, for instance, has almost three million followers.

Kamen continued that VOA employees felt there might be a conflict of interest, however, since they might be seen as condoning their employers’ views rather than their own, and would be placed in a position in which the fairness and accuracy of their work is questioned.