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Brainless

Here's the first paragraph from a brief story by the Associated Press:

PITTSBURGH — A homeless man suffering from bipolar disorder targeted Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux with notes offering unusual advice on how to win hockey games.

The story's other three paragraphs make no mention of the man's bipolar disorder. Which makes me wonder why the story mentioned the bipolar disorder at all, especially in the first graf. The chances are between possible and likely that the man's mental condition had nothing to do with his actions, and the story—without connecting the dots between the man's actions and his mental health—does nothing but further stigmatize people with mental health problems.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
penshark
Jul. 28th, 2009 03:07 pm (UTC)
AP's Statement of News Values and Principles includes this:
"In the 21st century, that news is transmitted in more ways than ever before – in print, on the air and on the Web, with words, images, graphics, sounds and video. But always and in all media, we insist on the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior when we gather and deliver the news.

That means we abhor inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortions."

Seems to me that the story you cite violates that principle. Time to point that out to their management?

(Their full news values statement is here: http://www.ap.org/newsvalues/index.html)
patrick_vecchio
Jul. 28th, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC)
Done. Thanks for the suggestion.
vivitalia
Jul. 28th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC)
This is one of the few things that really sets me off. Especially in this case.

Because oh, of COURSE he would send notes offering advice on how to win hockey games because he's bipolar! Makes perfect sense! As we all know, people with mental illnesses always use it as an excuse for their actions, so we, as a news provider are perfectly within our rights to do the same. Right? Right?


Ugh.
patrick_vecchio
Jul. 28th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC)
At Carole's suggestion, I sent a critical e-mail to The Associated Press. I'll post about it when they reply—or after they don't reply, whatever the case may be.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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