The Associated Press, a leading news agency which boasts “world-class journalism” and “global expertise” which “expand the reach of factual reporting” with “the power of facts,” has been embroiled in a number of recent gaffes in its coverage of Israel and the Palestinians. Last month, the wire service absurdly stated as fact that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “has always been opposed to violence,” despite an overwhelming pile of evidence showing otherwise. The impression that AP shamelessly jettisoned journalistic professionalism in order to cater to the Palestinian Authority was subsequently reinforced with a report that the Jerusalem bureau chief fired a veteran Palestinian cameraman allegedly due to his criticism of Palestinian security forces.
AP’s factual reporting was further compromised last week with a series of photo captions which laughably designated the tiny Gaza Strip, with its population of less than two million, as the “world’s largest Muslim nation.” The error originated, and was reproduced by AP’s clients around the world, when an AP staffer, with all his/her global expertise, simply copied the information from captions pertaining to Indonesia, which is, in fact, the world’s largest Muslim nation, with 220 million Muslims.
In the latest lapse of factual reporting, AP yesterday published a series of photo captions which wrongly placed the U.S. Embassy to Israel in Tel Aviv. Two years ago, amid amid great fanfare, controversy and news coverage, President Donald Trump moved the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital. Yet, in an apparent time warp, AP’s captions yesterday had the embassy back in Tel Aviv. A sample of the erroneous captions follow:
Yesterday’s protest took place outside of the Tel Aviv Branch Office of the American Citizen Services of the U.S. Embassy.
CLARIFIES THAT LOCATION IS THE U.S. EMBASSY BRANCH OFFICE TEL AVIV: Protesters hold signs and shout slogans during a protest to decry the killing of George Floyd in front of the U.S. Embassy Branch Office, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Unfortunately, AP’s erroneous caption still appears on the web sites of many of its clients including Haaretz, The Houston Chronicle, ABC, The Seattle-Post Intelligencer, and more. CAMERA is reaching out to AP’s clients to alert them to the correction and ask them to follow suit.
Some arrangements that AP clients have with the news service, however, do not allow the clients to make changes to AP copy. That was the case last month with The Charlotte Observer, which could not access the erroneous AP caption stating that the Gaza Strip is the “world’s largest Muslim nation.” Although The Charlotte Observer contacted the AP and asked news agency to fix AP’s error appearing on the Charlotte site, the erroneous caption still remains as of this writing. So though AP woos clients stating that it is the “essential provider of the technology and services vital to the news business” and “the perfect partner for your local, regional or global needs,” buyer beware. Content frequently amounts to less than factual reporting; clients don’t necessarily have any ability to edit incoming AP material, and even when clients ask AP to correct an error which the agency has corrected in its own archives but not on the client’s site, results are not necessarily forthcoming.
Stay tuned for news of additional corrections.