Friday, December 30, 2005

ITEM: Associated Press Utilizing Psychic Abilities!

Psychic powers are a boon to any reporter. So it's good to know that the Associated Press, the dominant wire service in America, has now got someone on staff who's got psychic powers and knows how to use them. Those powers are on full display in their latest dispatch on the National Security Agency.

Here's how the AP story starts off:

NEW YORK (AP) -- The National Security Agency's Internet site has been placing files on visitors' computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most of them.

These files, known as "cookies," disappeared after a privacy activist complained and The Associated Press made inquiries this week, and agency officials acknowledged Wednesday they had made a mistake.

The psychic powers come in to play with the choice of the word "acknowledged." You can only say something has been acknowledged when you know that thing to be true. You can't, for instance, acknowledge that the world is flat. So for the AP to say that the NSA "acknowledged" that it made a mistake in utilizing computer technology that allows it to track the usage of visitors to its site means that the AP somehow knows this actually was a mistake.

Now, the AP might, in its modesty, claim that it doesn't know due to psychic abilities, but due to statements from the NSA. That would be just silly, however. Because any first-year journalism student (and, really, it shouldn't take much longer than that) knows that just because someone tells you something -- particularly something that's to their benefit -- doesn't mean it's true.

That's why reporters often use such technical language as: "Said," or "claimed." The fact that the AP chose not to use such journalistic jargon in this case leaves only two conclusions: That the AP chose to trust the secretive spy agency or that the AP has psychic powers.

Obviously, in this climate -- in which we see one story after another of the government trying to maintain secrecy about its surveillance and other activities -- no responsible journalist will simply take the word of a spokesman paid to protect the reputation of a secretive spy agency. Which means the AP must, therefore, have psychic powers.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't the "strict Federal rules" part what gives them the license to say "acknowledge"? Given they can establish that independent of the NSA, if the NSA says they violated the rules, then they are acknowledging making a mistake. In the same way that a criminal saying "it was a fair cop" when caught in the act is acknowledging culpability.

Or perhaps you are insisting on a particular definition of "mistake", where they don't *deliberately* break the law. Now, that would be
hard for the AP to establish. But I think a broader
reading of "mistake" (and, hey, the NSA may have had lawyers clear the statement, so some careful parsing is probably in order) makes the AP's wording accurate.


Newer Post Older Post Home