AP’s Self-Declared Jerusalem “Correction”

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After referring to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, AP feels it has to correct the record.

On Friday morning, the wire service tweeted this article:

 Within the hour, AP issued this correction:

After checking the AP style guide (paywall), Politico contacted the wire service for clarification:

There’s only one line in the AP Stylebook entry on Jerusalem, which states, “The city in Israel stands alone in datelines.”

In response to a question from POLITICO about why a correction was issued and what the AP style in this situation would be, AP spokesperson Paul Colford pointed to the above Stylebook entry. He also wrote in an email that “the city was alternately referred to in copy today as the ‘capital’ and ‘self-declared capital.’ It’s now described as follows in writethrus from the region:

The air raid sirens sounded in Jerusalem after the start of the Jewish Sabbath in the holy city, claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as a capital and located about 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Gaza. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the rocket landed in an open area southeast of the city.

Colford followed up with Politico to say labeling it a “correction” was unnecessary:

“The decision was clearly made that explanatory language is best,” he wrote:

holy city, claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as a capital and located about 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Gaza.

It’s enough to make anyone’s head hurt. It goes without saying that capital cities are self-declared. AP wouldn’t qualify references to Brasilia, Canberra , or Dublin as the capitals of their respective countries unless denying reality was politically correct — which is increasingly the case when it’s about Jerusalem.

At least the wire service didn’t pull a BBC and label Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital under fire.

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