Biggest News Agencies the AP or Associated Press Part 4

About one of the biggest news organizations the AP or Associated Press, other newspapers and the AP, biggest scoops.



Name of Agency and Country: Associated Press, U.S.

To some extent, member newspapers control what news the AP distributes. When a Texas paper objected to a story on the demands of southwestern Chicanos for better living and working conditions, the AP killed it. Shortly before he quit, the story's author, Dave Smith, said, "The AP quivered and trembled and killed a pretty important story." Wes Gallagher explains such occurrences this way: "We can't crusade because we have papers of every complexion under the sun. A crusade that pleases one is anathema to another."

Newspapers are not obligated to print what the AP sends them. For example, 19 of 22 major papers, including those in Los Angeles, did not carry a story linking air pollution to the common cold. And early reports about the adverse effects of tobacco smoking, distributed by the AP in 1938 and 1948, were buried or ignored by most member newspapers. Many papers, including the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, refused to carry an AP report on North Vietnamese torpedoing of U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam because the story didn't jibe with the official military version.

Biggest Beats: The AP's cigar-smoking Lawrence "Father" Gobright was the first to report Pres. Abraham Lincoln's assassination, in a dispatch which began: "Washington, Friday, Apr. 14, 1865--The President was shot in a theater tonight, and perhaps mortally wounded."

When the 1906 earthquake rocked San Francisco and all telegraph lines to the East Coast were down, flamboyant Paul Cowles of the AP boldly routed the news around the world via Honolulu. In the first 24 hours after the disaster struck, only the AP was able to get bulletins out to the rest of the country. (It was also Cowles who, during the Russo-Japanese War, requested and got $80,000 from the AP cashier to buy a yacht to give him access to the neutral city of Chefoo, from which news could be sent uncensored over the wires.)

On Nov. 1, 1963, Tony Escoda, a Philippine reporter for the AP, scored a 42-minute beat with his report on the first military revolt in Saigon. Quirks and Prejudices: If the AP errs, it errs to the right, not the left. Its reputation for conservatism goes back a long way. During the Depression, an AP reporter bewailing the AP's anti-labor bias said: "It's so easy for a reporter, copyreader, the city editor, and the staff of our prosperous papers to take the Country Club attitude, the Bosses' slant, toward those who for one reason or another are whacking the established order."

Yet while the AP has a well-deserved reputation for stodgy dependability, it has--within the limits imposed by right-wing, family-owned member newspapers--presented a goodly share of controversial news. There are some stories it does not print--stories offensive to powerful member papers or important government agencies. Its coverage of foreign news also tends to reflect the official U.S. government position.

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