Monday, April 06, 2009

It's not the economy, stupid

Put another way: Sometimes it is the economy and sometimes it isn't, but if the AP insists on tying every statistical event to These Tough Economic Times, we're going to end up with a lot of ledes that sound alike:

WASHINGTON -- An economic downturn can have a bright side: U.S. highway deaths in 2008 fell to their lowest level since John F. Kennedy was president.

WASHINGTON -- One thing the recession has accomplished for Americans: It's taken some of the hassle out of flying.

I'd consider it a genuine sign of hope if news outlets started taking pride again in giving AP copy a hard edit. I'm not waiting by the mailbox, though.


Anonymous M.C. said...

I agree that neither of these things seem to have anything to do with the economy. One could argue, though, that if one of the hassles of flying is high ticket prices, the economy has assuredly reduced hassles by lowering those prices. A stretch, I know.
Perhaps the lack of harder edits of AP stories has to do with thinned staffs and bigger workloads. Just saying ...

10:01 PM, April 07, 2009  
Blogger fev said...

I wouldn't say either is necessarily a stretch, and you can make a case for both phenomena being related to the economy. I'm just sort of hoping that AP and desks generally will try to hold the "hey, here's a bright side" gimmick down to one a week or so.

I'm completely convinced that editing the wire is taking a backseat to more pressing tasks, and I think that's a perfectly rational decision. (I mean, between letting some AP slop go through and libeling somebody who might notice, that's a pretty clear choice.) But I've always thought that shaping general-purpose copy to specific needs was a noble purpose of the copy desk, and I'll actually be encouraged if I see signs that it's starting to come back into style.

12:04 AM, April 08, 2009  
Anonymous raYb said...

I don't doubt the economy has played havoc on lots of copy desks, but I doubt much more slop is getting through now than got through before the cutbacks. I have cringed practically every day at one or two stories -- AP, locally grown and other flavors -- for so long it's not funny.

8:17 AM, April 10, 2009  

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