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The Associated Press and CNN Examples
CNN plays catch-up, must follow an AP story, misses it completely or must rely on handouts, and gets facts wrong CNN's handling of Roger Clemens' not guilty plea on charges of lying to Congress demonstrates again how ill-equipped the network is to handle breaking news across platforms. More damning, it was breaking news that was anticipated. AP's beat on the story reflects the type of planning the AP consistently executes on the coverage of such anticipated stories. With filing not permitted from the courtroom, the AP had a second reporter sit in a nearby pressroom, where there was an audio feed from the court. When the news happened, that reporter expedited it to an editor, who shared it with AP's members. The AP's NewsAlert with Clemens' plea moved at 2:04 p.m. ET Aug. 30. By 2:16 p.m., AP had transmitted a bylined story of more than 650 words. CNN's first word on air was 2:26 p.m. -- 22 minutes after AP's alert. Sister station Headline News was slower, teasing the story before a commercial break at 2:27 p.m. -- 23 minutes after AP had reported the plea. During the tease, HLN neglected to mention that the plea had already been entered: "We're also following this. Roger Clemens in federal court, facing charges he lied to Congress. One of the greatest pitchers of all time is now entering a plea in Washington, D.C. We'll have it for you." Headline News finally reported the news at 2:31 p.m. Meanwhile, CNN.com had its own problems. At 2:45 p.m., CNN.com's Clemens story led with two outdated paragraphs, including a time reference that was 45 minutes old: "Washington (CNN) -- Retired baseball star Roger Clemens arrived at U.S. District Court in Washington on Monday for an arraignment on charges related to his insistence that he never used performance-enhancing drugs, according to two court officials. Clemens, whose arraignment is scheduled for 2 p.m., faces six felony charges, including perjury, obstruction of Congress and making false statements after he told a House of Representatives committee that he never used human growth hormone or steroids." The CNN.com homepage had updated a headline earlier mentioning the pleas. But that headline continued to link to the outdated story until CNN.com posted an update at 2:47 p.m. From CNN.com you could have found the full story without having to wait for CNN to update: The Sports section of the site's homepage links directly to SI.com, which is continuing to post AP content. SI.com's homepage displayed a link to a full AP story with the plea. -----------------AP Television News, which has a bureau in North Korea, had exclusive video coverage of Jimmy Carter arriving in Pyongyang and meeting North Korean officials on a mission to free a
jailed American. CNN initially went with file footage of Carter speaking in Georgia and later switched to video provided by the North Korean government. -------------------------------CNN made several errors in its coverage of gang rapes by rebels in eastern Congo, including mischaracterizing information it attributed to The Associated Press. CNN.com's early story, which followed AP's by about two days, mistakenly reported that three U.N. peacekeepers were killed and seven injured during the attacks. Here's the sentence: "During the four-day attack across 16 villages, according to the U.N., rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, as well as militiamen from the notorious Mai Mai movement, looted villages, killed three MONUSCO peacekeepers and injured seven more." This made no sense in the context of CNN.com's own story, the point of which was that U.N. peacekeepers, while in a base not far from the villages where the rapes took place, were ignorant of the rapes for several days. As CNN.com's own first paragraph noted: "Goma, Democratic Republic Of The Congo (CNN) -- The United Nations peacekeeping mission in eastern
Congo did not know about a rebel attack and mass rape in that region until more than a week after the events took place, a U.N. peacekeeping mission official said Wednesday."
The peacekeepers had been killed Aug. 18 - not during the July 30-Aug. 4 rapes. And the peacekeepers were killed far north of where the rapes occurred.The mistake appeared to be an editing editor: Someone pulled up background from a past story, confusing the two stories. CNN.com later updated its Aug. 25 story to fix the problem. But in doing so, it inserted a new error, saying the peacekeepers were killed before the rapes. In fact, while the peacekeepers' deaths were reported by the media before the rapes came to light, they were killed two weeks after the rapes happened. On television, CNN made a further error when it cited the AP. On Aug. 25, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez cited AP reporting from Aug. 23. Here is how Sanchez told the story: "Hutus entered the village in the country's northern province claiming that they were just there for food, before going on a rape spree that lasted for four days. The U.N. says the men are insurgents loyal to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, and now they're being hunted down. The U.N. is saying it wasn't informed about the attack until more than a week after it happened. But an American aide worker tells The Associated Press the U.N. peacekeeping forces knew it was happening while it was still going on. The U.N. says, 'Not true.'
Sanchez was wrong. An aide worker never told the AP that U.N. peacekeeping forces knew the rapes were happening. Rather, the aide worker said that U.N. peacekeepers were aware that the villages were occupied by rebels - a significant difference. It wasn't until later that the rapes came to light.
CNN cites AP and free rides on AP brand and marketing value CNN gave a lot of airtime to an Associated Press poll that gave President Barack Obama his lowest marks ever on how he's handling the economy. During two segments on Aug. 20, CNN
flashed graphics and captions on the screen crediting the AP for its poll, which the AP had released two days earlier. In the first, which included discussion of other recent polls, anchor Soledad O'Brien described the AP poll while a graphic including AP credit appeared on the screen. Here's what O'Brien said, ending with a question to reporter Candy Crowley: "President Obama is facing tough poll numbers, sinking approval ratings. A new AP poll showing 41 percent of Americans approve of his performance on the economy. You have 60 percent saying the economy has gotten worse or stayed the same during the administration. Of course, all of the timing of this,three months before the midterm. How troublesome are these numbers for the administration and for Democrats?" For more than a minute while Crowley talked, a two-tier caption crediting the AP appeared at the bottom of the screen: "Obama's Poll Numbers AP: Obama at new low for handling econ." Later in the morning, Crowley was interviewed by another CNN anchor. This time, the AP wasn't mentioned in the script, with Crowley saying "look at this figures" while a graphic attributing the poll numbers to AP appeared on the screen for more than a minute: AP: PRES. AT NEW LOW FOR ECONOMY. -----------------------------CNN cited AP for the most basic of facts in a report on an Iranian newspaper calling French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy a "prostitute." CNN anchor Rick Sanchez credited the AP Aug. 30 during his "Rick's List" segment, billed by CNN.com as "The List U Don't Want 2 Be On." Citing no sources, Sanchez gave a rundown of the story, then introduced the AP this way: "We have not heard any response yet from Bruni, by the way. But the AP is reporting the attack in the Iranian paper is in response to an open letter that Bruni recently wrote supporting the Iranian woman sentenced to be stoned." The story would neither have existed nor made sense without the fundamental information credited to the AP. And while it was something any news organization could have determined on its own with the most basic of reporting -- Bruni's letter was widely published in France, in addition to appearing on her website -- CNN apparently chose to piggyback on the AP rather than do its own work. (Reuters, which has a contract with CNN, did not report on the story until the following day.) In addition to systematic crediting of the AP, this example also illustrates another regular feature of CNN's reporting: Inaccuracy. In referring to the Iranian newspaper, Sanchez calls it "state-run." While the paper closely reflects the views and agenda of the ruling clerics, it's not part of the state media apparatus. The AP story did not characterize the paper that way. Sanchez or his writers may have confused the description of the newspaper with a mention in the AP story to similar criticism of Bruni-Sarkozy by a state-owned news website.
CNN free rides on reporting done at AP’s expense and investment
CNN took advantage of AP's connections and reporting in Bahrain on a story of tremendous international interest, grabbing material from an AP story quoting the imam who is leading plans for an Islamic center near ground zero. The imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, was traveling in the Middle East and gave an interview with Bahrain's Al Wasat newspaper in which he said the U.S. Constitution gives Muslims the right to practice their religion more freely than is the case in some Muslim countries. AP's stringer there received an advance look at a portion of the newspaper's interview with the imam, allowing the AP to write a story at least 12 hours before the newspaper was published. CNN noted that the AP got the quote early, paraphrased from the story and then flashed on the screen an entire quote used by the AP, giving credit in the graphic, "Quoted By Associated Press": "American Muslims have the right to practice their religion in accordance with the Constitution of the United States. I see the article of independence as more compliant with the principles of Islam than what is available in many of the current Muslim countries." The AP's story with the quote was transmitted at 3:11 p.m. ET, Aug. 22. CNN used the material at 7:02 p.m. Aug. 22 -- hours before Al Wasat was published. ---------------------------------CNN International credited AP for an exclusive interview with the Greek finance minister. The AP's Aug. 30 story came after more than six months of the AP reporter pressing to set up an interview with the minister. CNN International credited the AP in two different segments, both times using the AP material as a lead-in to CNN's own segment on the sad state of Greek tourism. Here's how CNN International anchor Richard Quest used the AP material on the Aug. 30 edition of his show "Quest Means Business": "Greece's finance minister has told The Associated Press that the markets are overpricing Greek risk. George Papaconstantinou said it will take time to convince investors that Greece is meeting all its costcutting targets." Several hours later, another CNN anchor read a slightly different script before introducing the identical segment on Greek tourism.
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