In a display of clueless arrogance unmatched since the Black Knight refused to yield to King Arthur, the AP replies to its critics on l'affaire Jamail Hussein:
NEW YORK A long-running dispute between The Associated Press and critics over one of its Iraqi sources show no signs of abating, despite at least two lengthy rebuttals by the news organization. The new IraqSlogger web site, founded by former CNN news chief, Eason Jordan, is out with a fresh challenge, after failing to resolve the issue in its own detective work. This has not set off a new round of examination by the AP, apparently.
Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor, told E&P today that she had not read Jordan's latest item, posted Monday, and likely would not. But she stood by the news organization's previous statements backing the existence of an Iraqi police captain, Jamail Hussein.
"I've been pretty public about what we have done to get to the crux of the criticism we have gotten about it," she added. When asked about critics' demands that AP produce Hussein to prove his existence, she said "that area [where he works] has pretty much been ethnically cleansed, it is a nasty place and continues to be."
Carroll said that Hussein "is a guy we've talked to for years," adding that "we don't have anything new to say about it, nothing new to add."
Linda Wagner, AP's director of media relations and public affairs, said she had just seen Jordan's post, but did not expect to have more to say about it. She said "it would be highly unusual for any news organization to provide sources on the demands of critics."
When asked about the fact that no other major news outlet appears to have been using Hussein as a source, Wagner said, "whether he might be used as an anonymous source by someone else, I don't know." She added that having a source that is not used by others may not be unusual in a war zone.
Here's the problem, Ms. Carroll. We don't believe he exists. If he doesn't exist, much of your reporting from Iraq is subject to dispute. If your reporting from Iraq is subject to dispute, your credibility is pretty much blown apart - and I don't know what else you have to sell.
Because we (individuals) aren't customers of AP, they can afford to ignore our unhappiness. But as we transfer our discontent with their poor professionalism to the newspapers that are their customers - and, for example, cancel our subscriptions in large part because we don't see the value of subscribing - the AP will be called to account. If you take a look at the share prices of major media properties who own AP - they've lost about 20% of their value in the last few years - I'll bet there will some interesting discussions when it comes to pricing AP's services over the next few years. So, Ms. Carroll, our views do matter - or more accurately, your ability to publicly defend the value of yours do. You used to be able to do so as casually as you chose because you owned the press.
Not so much any more.
It's truly sad that they can't get ahead of the issue. I'll point out a major media example of someone who has:
From: Kevin Anderson-Washington XXXXXXXXX@bbc.co.uk Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2006 16:30:18 -0000 To: XXXXXXXXX@eon.law.harvard.edu
Subject: RE: Best of Both Worlds Continued
I've been meaning to contribute to this discussion because I come from the mainstream media world - the other world so to speak. And the editor of the programme I work on at the BBC World Service, Mark Sandell, has been following this discussion.
Our programme has asked several of you to join us to talk about what is going in your part of the world, and we use Global Voices as a way to broaden out our agenda. What stories are you talking about that we should be aware of?
I still am considering my thoughts about the ways in which blogs and traditional media complement each other. I definitely am not of the view of an adversarial relationship between bloggers and traditional media although being from the US, I have definitely seen this in action.
But, I just wanted to flag up a little note from our editor Mark Sandell, about our thinking in covering stories. We had a discussion yesterday about the mining tragedy in the US, although we expanded this to deal with mine safety elsewhere, including China and South Africa. We had a lot of e-mail comments about why we weren't covering the landslides in Java or returning to cover the plight of quake victims in South Asia.
Mark posted his thoughts here:
Right now, it's at the top of the page, but it will shift to the middle after our day-end update. Look for the Note from the Editor. Let me know what you think. We're trying to be more open about why we do what we do.
BBC World Service and Five Live