At Bloomberg, reporters could sit at their desks and use a keyboard function to see the last time an official of the Federal Reserve logged on. And the Justice Department obtained the records of The Associated Press from phone companies with no advance notice, giving it no chance to challenge the action. The absence of friction has led to a culture of transgression. Clearly, if it can be known, it will be known.
There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”
We regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.
Gary Pruitt, President and CEO of the Associated Press, in a letter (PDF) to US Attorney General Eric Holder.
The News, via the AP:
The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for the Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.
In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
No subpoena may be issued to any member of the news media or for the telephone toll records of any member of the news media without the express authorization of the Attorney General… Failure to obtain the prior approval of the Attorney General may constitute grounds for an administrative reprimand or other appropriate disciplinary action.
So, evidently, Eric Holder gave his express authorization for monitoring of the Associated Press’ phone records. Besides the initial WTF, we wait to hear how this is spun to justify the intrusion.
Law enforcement officials confirmed Friday that four more copy editors were killed this week amid ongoing violence between two rival gangs divided by their loyalties to the The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual Of Style.
“At this time we have reason to believe the killings were gang-related and carried out by adherents of both the AP and Chicago styles, part of a vicious, bloody feud to establish control over the grammar and usage guidelines governing American English,” said FBI spokesman Paul Holstein, showing reporters graffiti tags in which the word “anti-social” had been corrected to read “antisocial.”
“The deadly territory dispute between these two organizations, as well as the notorious MLA Handbook gang, has claimed the lives of more than 63 publishing professionals this year alone.”
Officials also stated that an innocent 35-year-old passerby who found himself caught up in a long-winded dispute over use of the serial, or Oxford, comma had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters pulled back the curtain on political reporting Monday, revealing that many reporters now allow sources with the presidential campaigns to approve the quotes that will appear in their stories. He wrote that “it was difficult to find a news outlet that had not agreed to quote approval, albeit reluctantly.”
Here’s one: The Associated Press. “We don’t permit quote approval,” AP spokesman Paul Colford told me by email. “We have declined interviews that have come with this contingency.” That puts the AP in agreement with 58 percent of the people who said in our Twitter pollthat they never let sources review quotes. (The poll is totally unscientific and should be taken with the grain of salt that you normally apply to Twitter.)
Peters wrote that “quotations come back redacted, stripped of colorful metaphors, colloquial language and anything even mildly provocative.” Among the news outlets that have agreed to such terms: Bloomberg, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Reuters and The New York Times.
“We don’t like the practice,” said Dean Baquet, managing editor for news at The New York Times. “We encourage our reporters to push back. Unfortunately this practice is becoming increasingly common, and maybe we have to push back harder.”
As many traditional businesses have done before it, Associated Press digs in to protect its core business from disruption in a digital age:
The Associated Press on Tuesday took aim at Meltwater, a company that offers a paid clipping service to clients including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“Meltwater has built its business on the willful exploitation and copying of the AP’s and other publishers’ news articles for profit,” the AP alleges in a lawsuit accusing Meltwater of infringing copyright and misappropriating so-called “hot news.”
“Meltwater contributes no creative content and provides no editorial commentary,” states the complaint, which was filed in the Southern District of New York. “Its business serves no independent purpose other than the distribution of news created by others.”
The lawsuit accuses Meltwater of infringing copyright by “routinely copying verbatim the heart of the AP’s and other publishers’ news stories and selling that content to its subscribers for a profit.”
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