AP writer Joseph Gilbert was going to get fired. He completely dropped the ball, standing listening to a speech, while he was supposed to be taking shorthand for the recap.
There was only one thing to do when the speech ended and he had nothing of this small, short speech written down; no way to mark the few minutes of history: He asked the president for a copy of the speech notes.
That speech was the Gettysburg address.
“When the chips are down, it seems bleak, you have to be bold and ask Lincoln for his speech notes,” Gary Pruitt, President & CEO of the Associated Press said as he addressed the News Media Alliance mediaXchange 2017 conference attendees on Monday morning.
That spirit of excellence in journalism continues today. AP photographer Burhan Ozbilici was praised earlier for his composure while capturing the assassination of a Russian ambassador. The picture went on to win photo of the year.
Ozbilici didn’t lower his lens as the gunman shouted threats and leveled a gun at him.
“I didn’t have a choice, really. I work for the AP,” he recounted later to Pruitt. “When I got back to the office, my colleagues were going to say, ‘Where are the pictures?’”
Pruitt updated attendees on the AP’s progress and continued commitment to journalism and serving their members.
This year saw the multimedia delivery portal and delivery of AP newsroom to three-quarters of all newsrooms. This provides more story-centric options to members. Soon, they will launch an editorial planning tool, letting editors know what stories are coming and when. Pruitt also promised to help newsrooms pull from national stories and localize the content to make it your own.
Last year, AP launched automated stories, covering every minor-league baseball game and earning reports on over 4,000 businesses every quarter, which was once an impossible feat. This year, automated reporting will extend to include lower division college sports.
The AP has extended the video archives to have footage from 1895 to present. Pruitt says they will produce more video; not just of breaking news, but of distinctively AP content for its members to use.
With all of these changes, he promises one thing will stay the same: Values.
“I heard a TV pundit say, ‘You have your facts, I have mine,’” Pruitt said. People are beginning to treat fact like opinions.
“We at the AP disagree,” he said, reciting a quote from President John Adams, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”