AP replacing journalism with stenography?

AP let Parade off way too easy.

In my daily links post today, I noted Steve Outing‘s spot-on Jan 6 critique of this weekend’s gaffe by Parade Magazine — the popular full-color, feature-rich magazine wedged into already-bloated Sunday papers around the country. Here’s Outing’s description of what happened:

“Tens of millions of people were treated to an example of print media’s slide toward irrelevance this morning. Parade magazine, which is inserted in Sunday papers across the US, offered up its cover story about Benazir Bhutto: ‘Is Benazir Bhutto America’s best hope against al-Qaeda?’ (Only if you believe in reincarnation.)

“The story, an interview by Gail Sheehy done prior to Bhutto’s death, is particularly relevant now. But it needed to be reworked to acknowledge the assassination, of course.

“…Bhutto was assassinated on December 27. Parade shows up in newspapers with this embarrassingly outdated story 10 DAYS later! …Parade’s site, of course, does acknowledge the assassination, and explains its publishing schedule and why what people received in print is so outdated. And some newspapers ran editor’s notes along with the copy of today’s Parade — though not my local paper.”

Apparently, Parade is still in damage-control mode over this one. Today on Poynter’s site, uber-journo-blogger Jim Romenesko noted this Jan 6. AP story in which Parade publisher Randy Siegel offered this explanation…

“Randy Siegel said Parade went to press on Dec. 21 and was already on its way to the 400 newspapers that distribute it when Bhutto was killed in a Dec. 27 shooting and bombing attack at a campaign rally in her country. The Web version of the story was updated, Siegel said, but it was too late to change the magazine. He said the only option other than running the outdated article would have been asking newspapers not to distribute the magazine at all. ‘We decided that this was an important interview to share with the American people,’ he said.”

OK, I don’t doubt the interview was significant, but come on! Outing’s right, this outdated magazine cover was an embarrassment — and he was right to say at the end of his post:

“I really think that gone are the days when a publication that wants to cover news can afford the luxury of a 2-week print cycle. Parade can either stick to ‘evergreen’ stories …or modernize. That it purports to include news-related coverage on a twp-week publishing schedule just sets itself up to be embarrassed in an age of ubiquitous instant news.”

I wonder if something similar occurred to Karen Matthews, the author of the AP story — because that article offers no challenges to the Parade publisher’s lame excuses. Neither did Romenesko question Parade’s spin. That’s disappointing, because (as I commented on Romensko’s post), AP is a wire service that, for crying out loud, has been doing the continuous-news-cycle thing for decades.

How can we expect behind-the-times news orgs to wake up and smell the 21st century if we simply play stenographer to their excuses?

…Meanwhile, Contentious reader Ken Tolbert commented this morning:

“The manufacturing guys over at Evolving Excellence have some comments on how long publication lead times created the Parade fiasco with the Bhutto article. Interesting about how the digital files are created in India and the publication outsourcing demands.”

Good read, check it out! (Thanks, Ken)

2 thoughts on AP replacing journalism with stenography?

  1. I couldn’t believe the cover on Parade. I pointed it out to the waitress in the restaurant where I was reading it. She wasn’t impressed.

    The turnaround time for outfits like Parade pose problems for them in dealing with fast-breaking stories. I thought they should have included an insert that explained the goof up.

  2. Pingback: giornalismi possibili : Polemiche in Usa per la gaffe dellÂ’ intervista postuma a Bhutto

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