Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Associated Press Casualties Outweigh Original Story

Though most newspapers refused to run the Associated Press's graphic photo of the mangled body of dying marine Joshua Bernard, online newspaper customers found the photo was automatically run on their sites.

Editor & Publisher reports that newspaper sites using AP's automatic feed were unpleasantly surprised to learn that AP had published the photo on their sites without their knowledge or approval.
"At least one paper, the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, complained to AP about the automatic posting after it deliberately chose not to run the photo in print or online.

"'We were unaware it was on our site,' said John Sale, assistant managing editor/visuals for the Commercial Appeal. 'It was upsetting to know that the bat was out of our hands and would give the public perception that we were being hurtful to the families of the fallen marine.'"

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland was similarly upset by AP's disregard for newspapers that considered the photo too graphic.
"'I am a little upset that we did not know about this,' said Bill Gugliotta, Plain Dealer director of photography, who said his paper deliberately did not post or publish the controversial photo. 'We thought it was too graphic. If AP was going to do this, they should have given us a heads-up.'"

The Associated Press continues to blunder on this issue, and those blunders have grown to be a bigger story than the original article.

First AP decided to publish the graphic photo of Joshua Bernard's mortal wounding after Bernard's family and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates specifically begged that it not be published. Then AP irritated its newspaper customer base (most of whom disagreed with its evaluation on the propriety of publishing the photo) by forcing online sites to publish the photo without any heads up.

Instead of highlighting casualties of the war in Afghanistan, AP's decision to publish the photo of dying Joshua Bernard has spotlighted casualties of AP and its decisions.

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