AP unveils interactive annual report

2013-Annual-Report-CoverThe Associated Press today unveiled the digital version of its 2012 annual report, recapping a remarkable year in text, photos, video and interactive features. Viewable on desktop or mobile devices and easily shareable on social media, the report spotlights AP coverage from Topeka to Timbuktu:

  • Watch a video report from AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt in which he explains how AP strengthened its ability to provide critical news and services to members and customers, from opening a multimedia bureau in North Korea to completing an upgrade of all video to high definition. “AP produces news that no one else can, but that everyone needs,” Pruitt says.
  • See AP’s global reach at a glance in “AP by the Numbers”: operations in 280 locations in 110 countries and in every statehouse in the country.
  • Meet some of AP’s most tenacious and resourceful journalists, such as West Africa Bureau Chief Rukmini Callimachi who’s covered hunger in the region, or International Social Media Editor Fergus Bell who has led AP’s pioneering work in securing and verifying user-generated content from around the globe, including conflict zones.

The report will be presented to AP’s membership at its annual meeting today in Orlando, Fla.

AP shows products at NAB in Vegas; expands U.S. video coverage

AP staffers are demonstrating our new products, including the AP Video-US portal and Version 7 of the ENPS newsroom production software, at the NAB Show underway in Las Vegas. Visit booth SL9005.

Meanwhile, AP also announced today the expansion of our video news coverage in the U.S., adding dedicated video journalists in such markets as New Orleans, Boston, Denver, Philadelphia and Detroit.

Troy Thibodeaux named interactive newsroom technology editor


Troy Thibodeaux

Troy Thibodeaux, an award-winning journalist and developer based in New Orleans, has been named interactive newsroom technology editor at the Associated Press. His appointment was outlined in a memo to staff on Thursday from Global Interactive Editor Paul Cheung:

 In his new role, Thibodeaux will lead a team of programmer-journalists to create groundbreaking journalism with a focus on newsroom tools, data-driven stories and interactive features. There will be a strong emphasis on working on global investigative stories, in alliance with news leaders and journalists across the company. 

Troy has a blend of editorial and programming skills, specifically focused around data journalism, which has been demonstrated since joining the AP in 2007 at the Washington Bureau. His technical and journalism skills have resulted in helping AP win a SABEW award for his work around the China’s Reach project in 2012.  He was also part of the award-winning Economic Stress Index in 2009, a seminal project for the AP.

Troy has been a teacher and mentor not only for AP journalists but also to the industry with his involvement in NICAR workshops. Most recently, thanks to Troy’s foresight around journalism tools, AP was awarded a second Knight grant for an idea he devised to build a tool to allow journalists to more easily mash up geographic data with other data sets. 


Exposing behind-the-scenes efforts by US to aid Syrian opposition

In “Beat of the Week” memos to staff, AP Senior Managing Editor for U.S. News Mike Oreskes tells the stories behind the top news of recent days. His latest memo describes the dogged source work, in the Middle East and Washington, that went into recent AP reports of U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war:

The tip came from Jordan, the confirmation from Washington, and the result was not one but two important beats on U.S. support for rebels in the Syrian civil war.

It started when Jamal Halaby, the AP’s chief correspondent in Amman, was told by a highly placed official that the U.S., working in the Jordanian desert, had for months been secretly training secular ex-servicemen from the Syrian army.

The operation, which also involved Britain, France and other Western allies, focused on Sunni Bedouin tribesmen who could fill a security vacuum (and provide a counterweight to militant Jihadists) if Syrian President Bashar Assad is ousted. The ex-servicemen were going back to Syria to train others, and that group, not the rebel Free Syrian Army, was the recipient of arms and weapons financed and shipped by U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

That was key information revealing the extent of U.S. involvement in Syria, but the tip was off-the-record, and since the information was highly classified, officials and diplomats in Jordan would neither confirm nor deny it. Continue reading

‘Illegal immigrant’ no more

The AP Stylebook today is making some changes in how we describe people living in a country illegally.

Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll explains the thinking behind the decision:

The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term “illegal immigrant” or the use of “illegal” to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that “illegal” should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.

Why did we make the change?

The discussions on this topic have been wide-ranging and include many people from many walks of life. (Earlier, they led us to reject descriptions such as “undocumented,” despite ardent support from some quarters, because it is not precise. A person may have plenty of documents, just not the ones required for legal residence.)

Those discussions continued even after AP affirmed “illegal immigrant” as the best use, for two reasons.

A number of people felt that “illegal immigrant” was the best choice at the time. They also believed the always-evolving English language might soon yield a different choice and we should stay in the conversation.

Also, we had in other areas been ridding the Stylebook of labels. The new section on mental health issues argues for using credibly sourced diagnoses instead of labels. Saying someone was “diagnosed with schizophrenia” instead of schizophrenic, for example.

And that discussion about labeling people, instead of behavior, led us back to “illegal immigrant” again.

We concluded that to be consistent, we needed to change our guidance.

So we have.

Is this the best way to describe someone in a country without permission? We believe that it is for now. We also believe more evolution is likely down the road.

Will the new guidance make it harder for writers? Perhaps just a bit at first. But while labels may be more facile, they are not accurate.

I suspect now we will hear from some language lovers who will find other labels in the AP Stylebook. We welcome that engagement. Get in touch at stylebook@ap.org  or, if you are an AP Stylebook Online subscriber, through the “Ask the Editor” page.

Change is a part of AP Style because the English language is constantly evolving, enriched by new words, phrases and uses. Our goal always is to use the most precise and accurate words so that the meaning is clear to any reader anywhere.

The updated entry is being added immediately to the AP Stylebook Online and Manual de Estilo Online de la AP, the new Spanish-language Stylebook. It also will appear in the new print edition and Stylebook Mobile, coming out later in the spring. It reads as follows:

illegal immigration Entering or residing in a country in violation of civil or criminal law. Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant. Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission.

Except in direct quotations, do not use the terms illegal alien, an illegal, illegals or undocumented.

Do not describe people as violating immigration laws without attribution.

Specify wherever possible how someone entered the country illegally and from where. Crossed the border? Overstayed a visa? What nationality?

People who were brought into the country as children should not be described as having immigrated illegally. For people granted a temporary right to remain in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, use temporary resident status, with details on the program lower in the story.

April Fools’ Day “pranks”?

At April Fools’ time, we’re sometimes asked how we feel about people planting “prank stories” in the media. We don’t find such pranks very amusing. Some people may be trying to be funny, but we also encounter hoaxes calculated to accomplish political or financial ends. Our task is to produce a news report that people can believe in. False material – however intended – undermines our mission. Each year our staff takes extra measures to be vigilant as April Fools’ Day nears, though we know well that hoaxes can be perpetrated at any time. We would not consider someone who attempts to perpetrate an April Fools’ hoax to be a reliable source for anything in the future, April Fools’ Day or not.