The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, January 09, 2004

It's another AP kill

This time, it's an internal list of sportmen's phone numbers that some bright spark at AP decided to put out as a news piece. Not half a dozen but 750 names!

Now, I couldn't be sure, but I'd make a small wager that a list like that would make a piece that was much longer than, and looked completely different to, the average AP piece. And that, if anyone down to the errand-boy had read it with the slightest degree of attention, it would not have made it out of the building.

Implications: what, exactly, is the editing process to which AP pieces are subject? How could the phone number piece conceivably have slipped through any net there might happen to be? And - natch - what trust can be placed in the product of any organisation capable of such a basic error.

(On a scale of 1 to 10 of crassness of editorial incompetence, if the New York Times Jayson Blair pieces rank a 1, the AP phone number piece must rank at least an 8. Think of the INS at JKF failing to stop a passenger carrying a three-foot placard of I am Osama Bin Laden...)

This comes close behind the AP kill for a false story that Rush Limbaugh had been charged with narcotics offences, and other questionable AP pieces (January 6).

In general, I've been content to give AP something of a free pass on their pieces - assuming that at least the facts they state as such are accurate. For many stories, of course, though many sites may carry the story, in each case the substantive source is the same single, uncorroborated AP piece. (Part of the deal with wire copy, as I understand it, is that customers can take the material, meld it with other stuff, and pass it off as their own.)

I suppose one lives and learns.

(I have a copy of Upton Sinclair's 1920 The Brass Check - as published by the author [1] - which has a good go at AP, as well as the rest of the press of the age, from a pinko perspective [2]. It's been knocking around for ages, but I've never read it for having an insufficient knowledge of the characters and milieu to enjoy it. Now might be a good time, however...)

[Link via Romenesko - whose name I realise I've been mispelling all this time! Heigh ho...]

  1. Only the 7th Edition, so no doubt worth bugger all!

  2. This was, of course, the year of the Great Democratic Red Scare Mark I - not so good a time to be a pinko. And the heyday of the American Protective League, whose history I have at the back of my mind to follow up, time and available materials permitting.

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