Friday, January 05, 2007

Is the Associated Press Smoking Something?

It’s disconcerting how discriminatorily various AP offices apply guidelines.

The one in nearby Raleigh, which is supposed to represent half of North Carolina (who cares where they rent office space) is obstinately insistent about datelining stories as “Raleigh” that are actually taking place in Durham and other locations. Thus many other media nationwide step in the bucket and pass along stories that make Duke and RTP seem like they are located anywhere but Durham, and the impression is given that Durham must be a suburb of Raleigh.

Probably seems trivial to some journalists, but readers don’t give a schnoodle’s patootey where the reporter is when the story is written or filed. No one cares but the reporter’s boss, and the boss must have ways of knowing other than to confuse readers.

Even if the writer happens to be sitting in Raleigh or in the airport or on a bus, for that matter, when the story is filed and AP insists on using its office address as the dateline, it doesn’t excuse neglecting to mention in the body of the story that the subject of the story (events, people, facilities etc.) is taking place in Durham.

Readers don’t give a flip about where reporters physically sit when writing out a story. They care where the story is occurring. Why not dateline it where the story occurs and, in the body of story or in mice type at the end, tell us where the reporter is sitting… in case someone actually cares or it becomes an issue later?

Same craziness happens when cities in one county want to annex land for utility purposes in another county. Why make it our problem where someone gets their water from? The location identity should be driven by where the homeowner or tenant still votes, pays for license tags and goes to school. Practical everyday needs should dictate the identity of the location… not the bureaucratic need to transfer rights to provide utilities or planning oversight.

Same with postal officials, who a decade or more ago decided to pay no attention whatsoever to actual physical locations when assigning mail street delivery designations. So you can live on Saturn and get your mail with an address that gives the impression you’re located on Jupiter. Physical locations should be what’s important, not the bureaucratic need to know where the mail was sorted that morning.

And now cable TV operators could be smoking something. By now we were supposed to have news down to the neighborhood and block level, but guess what? Time Warner makes someone running for election in Durham buy time on both Durham and Carrboro’s channels… sounds like a personal problem at the company, and they are making it the viewers' and advertisers' problem.

To show how this all dominoes… TW appears to get confused by the mis-assignment of mail delivery designations and also assigns the wrong cable designation to these households… so when subscribers try to tune into community access or local government channels, they get the wrong city and county.

Catch-22 was obviously more than fiction!

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