Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Coincidence ... or what?

Surely it's just coincidence that these two AP paragraphs showed up on the same page of the morning e-fishwrap. Surely!

OK, in order. The AP may be scandalized. The Freep may be scandalized. Your mom might be scandalized (though that's probably less likely than you think). Rep. Weiner may be "scandal-scarred" (we're good at inventing terms like that, so feel free to come up with your own), but he isn't scandalized.

Point the second, and bear in mind that it's set up by a second graf that begins "Her visit will literally begin with a bang -- a 19-gun salute on the White House South Lawn." No, Virginia, there is no difference between the number of "gun salutes" for a head of government and a head of state. Each of them gets one salute. In one case, the salute comprises 19 guns, and in the other, 21.

For God's sake.

As far as I can tell, the blunders are as the AP moved them. The Freep appears to have cut an adverb -- "fully" -- from the AP Weiner lede (at least, as it appears at other outlets), but the "gun salutes" seems to have gone sailing in just as it moved. You too may have given up on expecting the AP to distinguish the 21-gun salute that greets a head of state from the three rifle volleys at a funeral, but wouldn't it be nice if the AP could actually identify things like nouns in its own sentences?

Indications continue to pile up that newspapers don't see much value, if any, in editing stuff before publishing it. (If you're interested in how smart an idea that might be, stop by and say hi in St. Louis; the evidence is on the side of the angels.) That puts an extra burden on the AP to not be stupid. Please step up.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simple question: in whose economic interest is it for AP not to be stupid? Clearly not the membership's, given that they are not putting any money into editing wire stories. Whether AP does a good job or a bad one, it costs the member papers the same. And for most outlets, the wire stories are just filler anyway -- anything that they perceived as being of actual value, they'd use their own reporting on.

My view, as a non-dead-tree news consumer, is that wire services are pretty much obsolete. There is no value to me, the reader, in having one story that gets published nearly unchanged on a thousand Web sites; just give me a pointer to the one or two outlets actually doing original reporting.

2:08 AM, June 08, 2011  
Anonymous Picky said...

Some of us, Anonymous, would hold that the "clearly" in your second sentence is non sequitur. There has been no sign that newspaper proprietors have a firm grasp of where their (other than very short-term) economic interests lie for the past twenty years.

8:12 AM, June 08, 2011  

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