Saturday, December 09, 2006

The AP - simply above questioning

I was reading this story today at Editor & Publisher. It includes a statement from Kathleen Carroll, executive editor and senior vice president of The Associated Press about the story of six Sunni's who were allegedly burned alive in Hurriyah while Shiite police stood by and did nothing.

You see, Ms. Carroll takes exception to her organization being questioned. She starts her statement thus:

"In recent days, a handful of people have stridently criticized The Associated Press' coverage of a terrible attack on Iraqi citizens last month in Baghdad. Some of those critics question whether the incident happened at all and declare that they don't believe our reporting.

Indeed, a small number of them have whipped themselves into an indignant lather over the AP's reporting."

I feel her pain.

Later on, she says:

"The Iraqi journalists who work for the AP are smart, dedicated and incredibly courageous to go into the streets every day, talking to their countrymen and trying to capture a portrait of their home in a historic and tumultuous period.

The work is dangerous: two people who work for AP have been killed since this war began in 2003. Many others have been hurt, some badly.

Several of AP's Iraqi journalists were victimized by Saddam Hussein's regime and bear scars of his torture or the loss of relatives killed by his goons. Those journalists have no interest in furthering the chaos that makes daily life in Iraq so perilous. They want what any of us want: To be able to live and work without fear and raise their children in peace and safety.

Questioning their integrity and work ethic is simply offensive."

Yes, yes it is only acceptable to question the integrity of others if you happen to be the venerable Associated Press.

More importantly, it's not only the AP's Iraqi journalists who are: "smart, dedicated and incredibly courageous." That sounds a lot like mostly every American soldier I've known. You just wouldn't know it from the AP.

There is no doubt journalists who put their lives on the line to report are hard-working, but they are not infallible. Even the New York Times puts out a list every day of their errors. It would be nice if the Associated Press could be open to the possibility that they, too, can sometimes be mistaken without becoming indignant about being questioned on a story.

Update: One of my daily blog-stops is Blue Crab Boulevard. Here's some additional thoughts on Kathleen Carroll and her defense of the AP story.

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