Did The AP Violate CNN's 'Hot News' Rights, Under The AP's Own Definition Of Hot News?

from the questions,-questions,-questions dept

In an otherwise silly article about CNN and the Associated Press sniping back and forth at each other over who properly broke the news of George Steinbrenner's death (the sniping is, in part, due to CNN's decision to dump its AP deal), there is one interesting tidbit. CNN's spokesperson admits that AP's mocking of CNN is silly, and notes that the AP quotes people from CNN all the time:
Pritchard noted that the AP has quoted CNN in its stories since the two parted ways, such as in a report about Virgin Airways stranding passengers on the airport tarmac in Hartford, Conn. Citations of other news organizations aren't uncommon, he notes. "We quote them, they quote us -- it happens."
Indeed. It does happen. But this is the AP that we're talking about, and they insist that blindly quoting someone else can violate the "hot news" doctrine. So, let's take a look at the Virgin Airways story. It appears that CNN kicked it off with this bit of coverage of passengers being stranded on the airplane, including quotes from the passengers.

Now, since the AP constantly changes its articles with no explanation or notice (and regularly takes down articles -- again, with no explanation or notice), it's a little difficult to track what the AP did or did not do in covering this story. However, there are some AP reports that appear to just repeat the CNN report without any additional reporting by the AP. However, the report linked above kicks off with crediting CNN, quoting CNN and then adding some AP reporting with quotes from the airlines. But all the passenger quotes are from CNN. While it's great that the AP did some additional reporting by getting quotes from the airline, it seems that the CNN quotes clearly violate the AP's own definition of hot news.

And it appears the AP recognizes that. That's because later that day, it sent out an updated version of the story that removes the CNN quotes. In other words, those quotes by CNN were considered so crucial to the AP story that it opened its original reporting by quoting them. Thus, under the AP's own definition of hot news, those quotes were clearly key to the story, and the AP simply "appropriated" them. Later on, when the story was no longer "hot" it removed those quotes.

We've been saying ever since news organizations like the AP started pushing "hot news" around again that it was going to come back to bite them. One of these days, maybe they'll realize it.

Now, I should be clear: I don't see anything, whatsoever, wrong with what the AP did in quoting CNN. As the CNN person notes, they quote each other all the time, and it adds relevant, factual information to the story. I do think it's a little sleazy of the AP to later remove those quotes and pretend they never happened, but whatever. What I have a problem with is the AP going around acting all high and mighty about its "hot news" rights, but apparently applying a huge double standard to itself.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Russ (profile), Jul 20th, 2010 @ 8:42am

    Double Standard

    That seems to be a consistent theme with media organizations complaining about the use of 'their' content by other media.

    Whether it be Hot News or Blogs or Google, what is good for the goose is not permissible by the Gander.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2010 @ 8:57am

    Oh, I can't wait for the terrible PR guy to show up telling us to go read the AP's oil spill coverage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2010 @ 9:31am

    actually... doesn't the AP comment "slow news day?" last time when their hypocrisy was pointed out?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous AP Guy, Jul 20th, 2010 @ 10:30am

    Slow news day?

    Is this a particular slow news day?

    You should check out our oil spill coverage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2010 @ 10:40am

    They should use the newly launched ULTRAVIOLET DRM LoL

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    DS, Jul 20th, 2010 @ 10:45am

    They were all ripping off Opie from Opie & Anthony. An 'insider' sent him a short text message announcing Steinbrenner's death, before it hit the mass media. It was announced on the air and his twitter (OARadio) before anyone else had the story.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    DS, Jul 20th, 2010 @ 10:45am

    Re: Slow news day?


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    drew (profile), Jul 21st, 2010 @ 12:54pm

    TLAs and Acronyms

    Mike, request from a new reader, please can you tell us what the acronyms and TLAs (three letter abbreviations) stand for when you first quote them? There's so much stuff to read i just don't have time to try and piece things together to work out who's who!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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