Dear CEO Gary Pruitt: Could The Associated Press Try To Report Right A Little Harder?
Posted by Peter Quennell
[From the AP website] More than one billion people look to The Associated Press (AP) for news each day. Founded in 1848, the AP is the world’s foremost information resource with more than 3,700 employees at 242 bureaus worldwide serving 121 countries 24 hours a day, seven days a week via newspaper, radio, television and the Web.
The AP is a co-operative owned by over 1,000 newspapers and, like most of the mainstream media it serves, the AP rather has its back against the wall. From the Wikipedia entry:
The AP lost $14.7 million in 2010 as revenue plummeted for a second consecutive year. 2010 revenue totaled $631 million, a decline of 7% from the previous year. This is despite sweeping price cuts designed to bolster revenues and help newspapers and broadcasters cope with declining revenue.
That image above is of Gary Pruitt. A lot is riding on him to sustain a quality service and deversify in any way he can to pump those revenues back up. Right now, he is a senior media executive in Sacramento, California, but he will become the president and CEO of the AP in two months.
Most Americans hear far more about Meredith’s case from the AP than they do from any other source. Typically the AP sends out a story every few days when the case is live in Perugia. Typically these stories then get posted on 200 to 2,000-pus media websites in the US and around the world.
The AP also sends out many video reports, which are broadcast by the many member TV stations, and the AP also posts them on YouTube. If you search Google Video for “associated press meredith kercher” you will get 30,000 hits, and if you search “associated press amanda knox” you will get ten times that amount.
The AP reports on the case have at times veered to the deeply trivial. Here is a post about Amanda Knox’s 2008 Christmas in prison which included only a single sentence about the real victim Meredith and her family. Within hours it was up on 800 websites.
The AP reports have also at times included seriously wrong facts. Sometimes it corrects them, sometimes not. Here is a post about a correction of a mistake which appeared on about 2,000 websites. The apology has been removed but the story when posted was inaccurate and it has been re-written to hide that. .
But the real gut problem in AP reporting on the case is one of deep superficiality and of leaving an awful lot unsaid.
Here is a report by the AP cultural and publishing correspondent Hillel Italie (image below) in New York. It is essentially correct so far as it goes, but it is a good example of the republishing of press releases while leaving an awful lot unsaid.
Here are just three examples of what the AP could have covered in this report and its many other reports but so far hasn’t.
- All trials and appeals have concluded with a sentencing report in Italian explaining what the reasons of the judges were. The AP has not only done no translation (it has bilingual reporters in Italy); of the reports’ very existence, the AP audience would never know.
- There is a lot of legal activity just ahead in the Supreme Court appeal against RS and AK and the calunnia and perversion of justice trials. The once-convicted perps are now looking at a formidable new prosecutor, though the AP audience would never know.
- There has been a costly, huge and highly onesided PR effort which has been unfairly hard on Italy and its justice system and its police and prosecutors and experts, to the point often of defamation, but the AP audience would never know.
Anyone who gets their news on the case only from the AP would essentially know NOTHING of the facts we have advanced in all the recent posts on the books and shortly before that in all the recent facts on the appeal and family trials. They would know only a tiny fraction of the full universe of facts and much of what they do “know” is flat-out wrong.
Nice going, Associated Press. Your worst performance ever, perhaps? But then, why bother, when only an entire very civilized country and hundreds of its officials and truth and justice are being slimed?
What most Italians know of the details of the case is maybe ten times more detailed and comprehensive and fair and accurate than what most Americans and many Brits know. Italian reporting and interviews and media investigations are very fair. In contrast the AP is proving lazy and sloppy and inaccurate. Not to mention very dishonest.
Mr Pruitt, please ensure that AP reporting learns something from this? Right now, they are falling seriously short.
The first rule in examining another persons psyche is to ask ones self one of two questions.
Would I buy a used car from this person? or (as an old soldier with 47 years military service.)
If I was in a fire-fight could I count on this person to back me up.
Looking as his photograph the answer is a very strong ‘NO’
As an NCO I learned very early how to ‘suss’ a person out
This one does not make it.