AP Watch Media Criticism

WTF? AP and KCNA co-sponsor “Day of the Sun” Kim Il Sung propaganda exhibit in New York?

Ever since the Associated Press signed an MOU with North Korea’s official “news” agency establishing a bureau in Pyongyang, I’ve tracked a disturbing trend in the AP’s coverage, starting with its global distribution of a doctored photograph designed to finagle food aid out of potential donors. The other day, the latest in a series of reports echoing KCNA’s propaganda caused me to say that it had turned its AP propaganda amplifier up to eleven. In retrospect, I should have saved that comment for this occasion:

Joint Photo Exhibition to Be Held in New York to Mark Day of Sun

Pyongyang, March 6 (KCNA) — A photo exhibition co-sponsored by the Korean Central News Agency and AP will be held in New York to mark the significant Day of the Sun, the birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung. On display at the exhibition will be photos on the DPRK separately prepared by the two agencies under MoU signed between the KCNA and AP in June last year.

I want to see that MOU. You know what we need? We need a Freedom of Information Act for the damn news media, that’s what. But wait — this is the best part:

Those concerned of the KCNA who selected photos for exhibition together with AP said the exhibition will display photos of the great men of Mt. Paektu who made immortal contributions to the prosperity of the country, its people’s happiness, the independent and peaceful reunification of the country and the accomplishment of the cause of global independence.

There will be on display also photos on various fields of the DPRK including politics, economy and culture. The exhibition will provide an opportunity to compare the different styles of photography between the two news agencies, and will give exhibition goers a visual understanding of the country rare for Western audiences, according to Santiago Lyon, AP’s director of photography.

The exhibition will help towards deepening the confidence between the peoples of the DPRK and the U.S. and improving the bilateral relations. -0-

This from the AP’s partner, the Korea Central News Agency, which one of my readers calls “Asia’s Finest News Source.” And just when I thought the AP’s coverage of North Korea couldn’t be any more like The Onion’s, it is.

By the way, KCNA’s masthead today says, “Anyone hurting the dignity of the DPRK supreme leadership will find no breathing spell in this land or sky.” North Korea was removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism on October 11, 2008. Discuss among yourselves.

And just so to keep this from descending into indiscriminate media-bashing, I’ll give a very gracious hat tip to the journalist and reader who sent me this link.

Update: This press release from the AP, from last June, partially corroborates KCNA’s claim:

The Associated Press today announced agreements with the Korea Central News Agency, including one to open an AP news bureau in Pyongyang. Leaders of the two news organizations held discussions during a New York visit by KCNA executives and this week signed two memos of understanding and a contract.

Under one memo of understanding work begins immediately on discussions aimed at opening an AP bureau in Pyongyang. It would be the first permanent text and photo bureau operated by a Western news organization in the North Korean capital. Five years ago, AP Television News, headquartered in London, became the first Western news organization to establish an office in North Korea.

The second memo of understanding outlines cooperation on journalistic and photo/video technology issues, including a joint photo exhibition by the two agencies in New York next year.

Just for some balance, here are some photos of the people’s happiness that the Associated Press will never show you, because it knows very well what would happen to its treasured agreements with the North Korean government if it did. So much for fearlessly skeptical, independent, objective, and transparent reporting. The AP seems to have emerged from its negotiations with the North Koreans in even worse shape than our State Department.


  1. is there a cold war precedent for this?
    if not, how could AP possibly justify this, apart from warm, fuzzy good intentions that renders them a propaganda tool?


  2. “Song Byeok: Departure will arrive in Washington, D.C., this spring.

    The artist will present eighteen pieces to the public at The Dunes (http://thedunesdc.com/), April 9-30. We are grateful to The Dunes for providing Song Byeok the perfect space to showcase his art in the nation’s capital.”

    Game on! Gonna be quite a month in the imperial capital.


  3. Be it as it may Joshua, be like Livia Augustus and have patience beyond reason like a Claudian. Yes the Associted Press is being a tool to them. Baby steps. We are talking about the most “Hermit Sealed” civilization on Earth here finally opening up with no strings attached,,….





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