The Associated Press’s Ed White used almost 700 words in his story (link is dynamic; story in form found at 5:04 p.m. is also here) about the latest developments relating to Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit, and failed to name his party affiliation even once.
Even beyond that, though he did tell readers that Kilpatrick faces a criminal trial for perjury, misconduct, and obstruction of justice, White failed to note that calls for Kilpatrick’s resignation, which began in earnest with City Council’s 7-1 vote in March, continue to mount.
According to White’s report, Kilpatrick:
- Allegedly “….berated and attacked (investigators) as they tried to serve a subpoena to a friend.” One investigator says that the mayor “grabbed him and threw him into (a) fellow investigator …..”
- That investigator, Brian White, “testified he had X-rays taken at a hospital and might have suffered a slight hip fracture.”
- Was ordered by a judge “to pay $7,500 and undergo random drug testing.”
- Though he is the mayor of Michigan’s largest city, is still “no longer permitted any personal travel outside Michigan. He also cannot travel on business outside the state without the court’s approval.”
- Tried to shame a black investigator for working with a white colleague, saying that “You should be ashamed of yourself. Why are you a part of this?” and “You shouldn’t even be riding in a car with a guy named White.”
AP’s 2000 Stylebook (I would be grateful if anyone with access to a more recent version could e-mail me a link) says the following about reporting party affiliation:
Let relevance be the guide in determining whether to include a political figureâ€™s party affiliation in a story.
Party affiliation is pointless in some stories, such as an account of a governor accepting a button from a poster child.
It will occur naturally in many political stories.
For stories between these extremes, include party affiliation if readers need it for understanding or are likely to be curious about what it is.
I would suggest that the “relevance” and “curiosity” tests are slam dunks.
It’s not like all reporters are allergic to reporting the party affiliation of Democratic malfeasants. This Newark Star-Ledger story from this morning by Josh Margolin and Robert Schwaneberg (“Assemblyman Neil Cohen under child porn investigation”) names the Democratic Party affiliation of two of Cohen’s colleagues in the first paragraph, and identifies Cohen as “D-Union” in the second. The word “Democrat” or “Democratic” actually appears five times, and the “D” label three times.
So what’s Ed White’s excuse?
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.