Thursday, July 28, 2005

A little more 'editing' at the AP

Just saw this little show of AP bias yesterday and thought I'd bookmark it. I must say I wasn't all that surprised to see that they made some 'changes' to their original story to try and make it appears a little less anti-US.

The original title (I'm assuming as this may be an edit also) of Robert Burn's piece from yesterday:
"Iraqi leader presses issue of U.S. withdrawal
Meantime, top American commander says withdrawal may start next spring"
(found this one on MSNBC)
The 'new and improved' title as of this morning:
U.S. general says he hopes to start pulling soldiers out of Iraq by spring of 2006
(found by the AP's own link to the story on
Reading Eagle on the Web)
Now since the Iraqi PM never really requested US troop withdrawal but merely mentioned that he would like them to leave whenever the native forces are capable of defending Iraq themselves, which has always been the stated American plan anyways, the second generation of the title is much more fitting as it is the only true new information from the article. The first, in my opinion, almost makes the General seem dismissive of the PM's request for withdrawal.

But even beyond the title correction, just reading the article shows a definite bias in the writing style. Words like "increasingly unpopular" pop up all over the place with little or no corroboration. Even the poll results he constantly mentions (jumping from unrelated poll to another) are all responses from a single point in time. Anyone with even the slightest grasp on the English language, as I'm assuming an AP writer does, would understand that the term "increasingly" requires at least two separate point in time references. Just because numbers are high does not mean they have increased.

Opinions do not belong in the articles of international 'news' services. Thousands of news centers around the world rely on these articles for their information, often as their primary source. These should be more on the lines of a "just the facts" kind of deal where the individual news agencies can then feel free to editorialize on later, but when a writer goes out of his/her way to insert their own bias into their news work they should quit the journalism industry and either find another job or more into the wonderful world of political punditry where bias is expected.

While I hate journalists who pretend to be neutral (as it is their job) while their work screams their bias, I hate the AP, and other news services, practice of editing their online articles without any reference to corrections. While in this case it was just a slightly misleading title, they have in the past re-written entire articles (just look up some of their pre-event writing fiascos) without making any reference to a previous version. Just my 'pet peeve o' the day'.


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