I had initially not paid much attention to the pulled Nike Hyperdunk advertisements on which Basketbawful gave his opinion last week
, but I noticed a lot of people were commenting, so I reread his post to refresh my memory.
I agree with everything Basketbawful said. It’s not difficult to find a lot
of people who agree, because we are the vast majority. Most of us believe it’s a shame how easily people are offended, but an even bigger shame that those few – very few – thin-skinned individuals can actually effect the world at large.
I decided to perform an online search to see if I could view the entire ad campaign. I wanted to have a better sense of its full scope, and perhaps write a post about how “offended” I am at the racial make-up of the dunkERs vs. the dunkEEs (the only picture I’d seen was of a black player dunking over a white player – excuse me, an African-American
player over a Caucasian
player). The intent of my post, of course, would be to illustrate by way of satire the foolishness of those who were so offended.
Anyway, when I googled “Nike Hyperdunk ads,” I couldn’t find the ad campaign. I imagine most evidence of it has been burned, buried, or shot into space to ensure nobody else is offended by it. What I did find however, was a July 29th, 2008 item on Advocate.com (a national gay and lesbian online publication) entitled “Nike to Drop Offensive Hyperdunk Ads.”
After a quick glance, I was about to exit this page when I noticed the “(AP)” at the end of the text followed by the Associated Press copyright notice: “© 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.”
From everything I’ve ever known about AP releases, news distributors (when given permission to use these items) are meant not only to attribute the items to the Associated Press, but also report said items without altering even one word of it, which is covered in the copyright notice: “may not be…rewritten...”
So the Advocate properly footnoted the source of the piece – the respected, unbiased Associated Press. But I’m looking at the title of this article, and I’m thinking it looks curiously biased to me. “Nike to Drop Offensive
Hyperdunk Ads”? Wouldn’t the Associated Press – the true standard-bearer of “fair and balanced” reporting - realize that these ads were only offensive to a very few, and that calling them “offensive” in the title implies that everyone on the planet regards them as offensive just as certainly as we regard the White House as white?
Well, the writer of the Associated Press did
know this, it appears. I looked further, checking with the Associated Press site itself, which has a search mechanism allowing visitors to view random local news websites that reprint AP material. In article after article, I found the original title of the Nike news piece:
“Nike to drop Hyperdunk ads some see as homophobic.”
Here are screenshots from the many publications I found that reprinted this news the correct way:Indianapolis StarYork DispatchMississippi's Clarion LedgerAstoria, OregonDetroit NewsBennington Banner, Bennington, VTEast Valley Tribune, PhoenixHawaiiVentura County, CaliforniaThe Daily Journal, NJ
St. Petersburg Times, Tampa Bay, FL.
Ft. Myers, FloridaSan Diego, California
Some of you may be asking yourselves if there were there even slight variations on this title. Well, I did my research, and yes, I found one variation:
“After earlier defense, Nike says it will drop Hyperdunk ads some see as homophobic.”
I found this alternate wording in three locations. It was exactly the same in all of them, indicating to me this is some authorized AP variant of the title. More importantly, the variant does not alter the bias, meaning, or context of the original title:FW Daily News, Indiana / OhioLos Angeles KFWB NewsWest Texas News
Now, the Associated Press has a very strict code of values and principles
. Their press release on this subject includes phrases such as “we abhor inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortions” and “Quotations must be accurate, and precise.” One assumes, then, that they demand the same from those agencies that reprint their material.
The AP also requires written permission
for use of its material. One must also assume, then, that the AP would never
have authorized the Advocate’s modified title, since it so clearly changes the title’s context and meaning. If they did, shame on them. If they didn’t, shame on Advocate.com.
I consider this a significant breach of journalistic integrity. The Advocate is supposedly the preeminent publication, both in print and online, for homosexual men and women, and it appears on the surface to be altering pieces of Associated Press news to fit in line with its own agendas. This is an AP news
piece, not an editorial
piece – and yet someone at the Advocate appears to have decided to editorialize, essentially informing
readers that the Nike ads are offensive. That, friends, would be more offensive than the Nike ads themselves ever were.
The Advocate was at least wise enough not to alter the body text of the piece, which appears to remain in tact. There is, however, one thing at the end of the second paragraph (and this is hilarious because it shows that the editors of the Advocate are fully aware of journalistic guidelines) where they write “the [Portland] Oregonian reported.” For those who don’t know, square brackets signify missing material; in other words, the original AP article didn’t have the word “Portland” in it, but the Advocate folks wanted to make sure you knew the town from which the Oregonian originates. That’s nice of them, isn’t it? And yet they aren’t at all concerned that you know they altered the title of the article to suit their political views.
There's one bright spot here. A majority of the comments by readers of the Advocate (which I have saved in a lengthy screen shot for posterity) state that they don’t find the ads offensive either. What does this suggest? It suggests the Advocate is not in sync with the gay and lesbian community and shouldn’t bother to claim it speaks for anyone but its own collective editorial staff.
To those who would complain to Advocate.com, don’t bother. If the Advocate catches wind of this, they’ll fix that online title faster than the Nike ads disappeared. All I want you to do, loyal Basketbawful readers, is follow this link
, see that I speak the truth, and add a comment to this post that you saw the Advocate title is exactly as I’ve said. Your comments are far better proof even than my screenshot, since we all know that nowadays it’s as easy to alter a picture as it is to alter an Associated Press news piece.
I don't know if AP news titles are altered by news outlets with regularity. I have made an inquiry about this issue to the AP, and have received no response as of the time of this post, but I'll update you with anything I learn. Regardless of who is the responsible party here – the AP for authorizing such a blatant bastardization of their material, or the Advocate for bastardizing it – somebody in this food chain has spit in the face of proper journalism.
I can just see this item as reported by the Associated Press on Advocate.com:
“Mean Jerky Sports Website picks on Pure Innocent Gay Advocacy Publication.”
It’s all about the spin.
Labels: Advocate, Associated Press, Hyperdunk ads, Nike