If you’re wondering why the media usually paints a picture of a world that’s more violent and dangerous and hysterical than your average Schwarzenneger movie, just check out what the AP considers “news”.The bullets below are adapted from AP Minnesota’s guidelines for local papers who want to get their stories picked up by AP.
They were assembled by Libby Reinish for savethenews.org:
- Train wrecks, aeroplane crashes, drownings, fatal auto accidents (if there are multiple victims or unusual circumstances) and unusual accidental deaths
- Meetings where action of regional or statewide interest is taken or where a prominent person speaks
- Riots, demonstrations, strikes
- Major fires (involves loss of life, public disruption or destruction of a structure/site known statewide), explosions, oil or other chemical spills.
- Unusual bank robberies (exceptionally violent, hostages taken, serial robber, etc.)
- Weather news, including ice and hail storms, heavy snows, damaging rains and floods, record heat and cold, tornadoes; and,
- Human interest stories. The odd, the offbeat, the heart-warming.
- Non-fatal auto or boating accidents
- Motor vehicle chases, unless major damage or loss of life occurs
- Routine city council, school board or other public meetings, unless an issue being discussed at other meetings around the state — such as state budget cuts — is discussed
- Bomb threats (unless a MAJOR public disruption results), petty crimes, minor drug busts, minor or non-fatal fires
- Suicides or obituaries unless the person is known regionally or statewide or unusual circumstances are involved; and, Publicity handouts, including local pageant winners, fund-raisers and charity events.
The guidelines for AP Ohio, largely the same, had this gem of an addition:
Yes: Single-victim murders that involve unusual circumstances, a prominent person or happen outside the metropolitan areas, where murders are common…
No: Routine one-victim murders in big cities, where murders are more common.
UPDATE: Paul Colford of the AP sent the following explanation of what the guidelines are for and noted that AP does other work besides this:
Member newspapers and/or broadcasters that subscribe to the AP wire and services in a given state – Ohio and Minnesota, for example, as listed by the blog you cite – sometimes interact with the AP bureau in the state, seeking and suggesting pickup by AP of some of their own stories. Those guidelines, if you will, help the uninitiated distinguish the everyday story from the more compelling news that would be of interest to the wider AP audience.
At the same time, as you well know, there’s much more enterprise involved over all in AP’s global news reporting.
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