Must read: Washington Post on AP’s Pyongyang Bureau

I think Paul Farhi, The Washington Post‘s media reporter, wrote an interesting and balanced article, although I wish he’d stressed the point that I stressed to Farhi — that readers could more easily accept the limits on AP’s coverage if AP would be more forthcoming about what those restrictions are. I want to know more about the terms of the AP’s reporting, both written and unwritten.

Farhi did manage to squeeze some of this out of the AP, including the admission that minders follow the AP reporters, and have de facto veto power over where it goes and what it covers. If only Farhi had convinced AP to release its final MOU with the North Koreans.

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Update: Whoa:

I don’t agree that it’s a “flattering” story, but … Talmadge hasn’t been allowed into North Korea in months? Isn’t that kind of a big deal? Why ever could that be? And what would it say about the difference between Lee’s reporting and Talmadge’s, at least in Pyongyang’s eyes? HT: Nate Thayer.

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Update 2: Welcome back, Washington Post readers. It also strikes me that by focusing on Eric Talmadge himself, Farhi misses some of the most damning parts of the AP Pyongyang story. Talmadge himself may be the least problematic part of it. The most problematic parts are the decisions of AP corporate, including the North Korean propaganda exhibition AP and KCNA put on in New York, and the Memorandum of Understanding AP made with North Korea’s state propaganda agency. The intrepid Nate Thayer obtained and published a draft of that MOU, and it reads like an agreement to publish North Korean propaganda. AP denies that the final MOU contains similar terms, but refuses to release the final.

Much of the reporting has been troubling, too, but you probably want to see specific examples. OK, then — start with the Pak Jong Suk story. For examples of biased AP coverage of North Korea, click here, here, here, and here. For a comparison of AP’s conduct to the ethical standards of the AP Media Editors, click here. For more posts on AP Pyongyang, click here.

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