Saturday, December 04, 2004

Denver and Christmas and Associated Press stories

Like my last post, this involves two “identical” AP stories. Of course, they are not identical. CNN’s headline is “Denver mayor allows ‘Merry Christmas’ display.” Fox’s headline is “Denver Mayor Will Not Remove 'Christmas'.” This is perhaps a subtle difference but the first talks about allowing, which is more passive than the latter “will not remove.”

There are some minor differences in the first four sentences of the articles. CNN left off a minor portion of a quote from the mayor and also left off this sentence which is in the FOX version of the AP story: “He said the city might add "Happy Holidays" to the display next year.”

CNN’s article is 215 words and half of the article is about a similar reversal with regard to a holiday tradition in Chicago. Fox has 299 words with no mention of Chicago. At the place in the AP story that CNN talks about Chicago, Fox’s article discusses a controversy involving a church that wanted a Christmas-themed float in Denver’s annual parade and the private nonprofit group in Denver that organizes the parade with its “longstanding policy that prohibits religious or political messages in the parade.”

CNN chose to leave the other Denver issue out of their version of the AP story while Fox decided to include it. Fox did not cover the Chicago story which was less controversial. So, even though an article is attributed to the “Associated Press,” it pays to read more than one news source.

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