Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Why Is the AP Swapping Articles for Bushco Friendly Ones?

This may be a bit hard to follow, but bear with me as I try my best to spell it out. This is not the first time I noticed this going on so I feel the need to address it. In this case it started when I read this post over at Moxiegrrrl's site:

But when I clicked on the linked story, the article that appeared bore the same title but was almost completely different. What I got was this instead:

(Because I have no way to know how long these articles will stay up,
I'm using screengrabs. Click on pic for larger view)

The first article that Moxie quoted was hard on Bush, and rightfully so IMO, but the article she linked to read more like the Whitehouse's response. So I googled the opening sentence to see if I could find the article Moxie quoted from...

...and there the article was, listed over and over with the opening sentence showing in each google snippet. So I clicked on the first AP story at WaPo and again, just like Moxie's post, the opening sentence wasn't there. It was the second Bush-friendly AP article again from the same author as the first. I clicked the second one at Newsweek, and the same thing. The AP has had its carriers replace the earlier article altogether at the same URL as the first. This time, unlike the WaPo and Yahoo articles which I could find no mention of having been edited/updated, Newsweek did have "Updated: 12:55 a.m. ET June 27, 2006" on their site. The next link at USA Today had notice of an update too.

What happened to the earlier version, I wondered. After a few more clicks I found the article still existed in its earlier form at the San Diego Union Tribune:

Ok, props to the SDU Tribune for not playing the bait and switch (yet?) with this article, and some credit to USA Today and Newsweek I suppose is warranted for their at least mentioning the article had been updated. I still have some major problems with the whole thing though. First, the Google grabs of the first sentence show the earlier version existed at the same URLs. The second version is hardly an update. It reads more like the Whitehouse's rebuttal to the first. Second, especially in the case of WaPo and Yahoo, the switcheroo seems to violate AP's own policy statement. (H/T to commenter CC @ Moxiegrrrl)

When we're wrong, we must say so as soon as possible. When we make a correction in the current cycle, we point out the error and its fix in the editor's note. A correction must always be labeled a correction in the editor's note. We do not use euphemisms such as "recasts," "fixes," "clarifies" or "changes" when correcting a factual error.

A corrective corrects a mistake from a previous cycle. The AP asks papers or broadcasters that used the erroneous information to use the corrective, too.

For corrections on live, online stories, we overwrite the previous version. We send separate corrective stories online as warranted. ...(more)
Now, no matter what AP's mission statement says, my real beef is this: If I quote and link to an article, just as Moxie did, I should be able to depend that the AP won't switch the article to one with a completely different viewpoint like they did here. It's one thing to issue a correction, but it's quite another to cave to Whitehouse pressure (which seems pretty evident) and change almost the entire article. If they are going to do that they at least need to not replace the earlier version at the same URL, update notice or not, and give the new article it's own digs.

Is the Whitehouse pressuring the AP to make these changes? I have no way to know, but I suspect so. If anyone has any thoughts or any further info what's going on, please do leave me a comment.


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