Ethics Quiz: Does This Show That The Media Is Getting Better, or Worse?

Soon, the press may just make up ALL its stories (From Bad Reporting Comics)

Here’s a real head-scratcher. On September 9, the Associated Press ran this story, critical of Gov. Rick Perry:

Texas wildfire victims wondering where Perry is

BASTROP, Texas (AP) — Residents affected by a devastating Central Texas wildfire are growing impatient with state officials and questioning why Gov. Rick Perry hasn’t spent more time there.

 Some residents yelled at Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst when he visited the command center in Bastrop County Friday, asking where Perry is and why they haven’t had any housing help. Wildfires have destroyed nearly 1,400 homes about 25 miles from Austin.  Perry, running for the Republican nomination for president, interrupted his campaign and returned to Texas for two days before heading to California for a debate Wednesday. He is now fundraising in California.

Perry’s office said “everything that needs to be done to respond to these fires is being done.” Dewhurst said the White House hasn’t yet replied to a request for federal aid.

Then, Saturday morning, this appeared where the story had been:

BASTROP, Texas — The Associated Press has withdrawn its story about Texas residents questioning why Gov. Rick Perry has not spent more time in areas affected by wildfires. The single person who asked about Perry’s involvement was not an area resident.

Your Ethics Alarms quiz question for the weekend: Which is more significant:

  • That  AP reporters would fabricate and run an entire item criticizing the GOP Texas governor based on a source with no validity at all, and that AP editors would run it, or
  • That the AP ultimately killed the story when it determined that the story was garbage?

In other words, is the AP unethical and biased, but without sufficient nerve to go all the way, or jaw-droppingly incompetent and without quality controls, though possessing the integrity to correct a mistake?

You are on your own on this one.

[Thanks to Popehat]

2 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Quizzes

2 responses to “Ethics Quiz: Does This Show That The Media Is Getting Better, or Worse?

  1. Elizabeth

    My answer is BOTH. The AP is, as you say, “jaw-droppingly” inefficient, clearly has run stories with inadequate “sources” because of their political point of view, BUT at least it had the courage to correct itself. I’ve never heard of the AP doing this before.

    My question is: how many people are aware of the retraction? My only experience with this kind of thing is The Washington Post: which routinely runs huge, above-the-fold stories on page 1 and then retracts weeks them weeks later in tiny articles on page 22…

    i know I’m a weinie, but there you have it…

  2. Michael

    The first is more significant. How could any editor let this get through? Don’t they ask for the sources or evidence before printing such a story. I don’t blame them for retracting it. I’m surprised they didn’t just pull it and deny that it ever existed. The only retraction that matters for such an article is the following:

    “BASTROP, Texas — The Associated Press has withdrawn its story about Texas residents questioning why Gov. Rick Perry has not spent more time in areas affected by wildfires. The single person who asked about Perry’s involvement was not an area resident.”* The reporter who wrote the story, Ima Coward, and the editor involved, Lib Bias, have been terminated. The AP apologizes to Gov. Perry for not checking its stories more thoroughly and for employing more than a critical mass of liberal activists instead of journalists.

    Ether that, or something wordsmithed a little to make it less blatant.

    * Quoted material is the actual retraction.

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