The Associated Press's Stinky 'New Distinctiveness'

Just in time for the 2012 elections, the Associated Press, which yours truly has taken to calling the Administration's Press, has consciously decided to inject even more left-wing bias into its reports.

A leaked memo published on December 13 by a sympathetic Michael Calderone (so sympathetic that he got out the heavy-duty Huffington Post shovel for his opening sentence: "The Associated Press has been getting it first and getting it right for the past 165 years") described something called "The New Distinctiveness."

Don't fall asleep, folks. When you read the memo's text, and just a bit between the lines, what you find is a justification for and formulation of a new form of agenda journalism from the people whose only job should be relaying the facts, something they have been doing progressively (pun intended) more poorly in recent years:

AP wins when news breaks, but after an hour or two we're often replaced by a piece of content from someone else who has executed something more thoughtful or more innovative.

Gee guys, do you really think you're done collecting facts after an hour or two? Let other folks "think" and be "innovative." As soon as you have more, better, and clearer facts, they'll have to update. If you stop gathering facts, which you do all too often already, readers' eyes will move elsewhere, with no motivation to return.

Despite the lip service to "digging deeper" appearing several paragraphs later, the big strategic enchilada in the memo has nothing to do with facts and everything to do with spin:

Journalism With Voice. We're going to be pushing hard on journalism with voice, with context, with more interpretation. This does not mean that we’re sacrificing any of our deep commitment to unbiased, fair journalism. It does not mean that we're venturing into opinion, either. It does mean that we need to be looking for ways to be more distinctive and stand out in the field -- something our customers need and want. The why and the how of the news are as crucial as the who, what, when and where.

Here I thought "Journalism With Voice" referred to TV and radio broadcasts.

A day later, Logan Churchwell at Accuracy in Media wondered: "[H]ow does one report with 'voice' while maintaining a 'deep commitment to unbiased, fair journalism?'" I did too. The answer is: You can't.