Update: An AP official has responded to this post. That response, and my reply, are here.
Note: A sentence which erroneously reported the Eastern Time Zone equivalent of a story at the Kansas City Star has been removed.
The Associated Press appears to have done something unusual in its coverage of the the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case on Monday. Two identically worded stories with differing headlines are still at the AP's national site.
It is more than a little odd that the story with the earlier headline ("Cache of evidence in shooting, still huge gaps") is still present. The headline grossly mischaracterizes the nature of the publicly released data. The same story with a different and more accurate headline ("Amid evidence cache in Martin case, questions nag") is also still there. I don't think I've ever seen this happen at AP, especially not for over 24 hours (the time stamps on the two stories are both late Friday afternoon). Graphics with the two examples follow the jump.
Here's the earlier version, (with the URL "http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/N/NEIGHBORHOOD_WATCH?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT"):
Now the later version (with the URL "http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_NEIGHBORHOOD_WATCH?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT"):
So why are two otherwise identical stories with different headlines still present at the wire service's national site? My theory: By changing the URL of the second story, AP made the old story with the distortion-driven headline less likely to be replaced at subscribing outlets on Friday evening, meaning that that a lot more print editions probably carried the "Huge Gaps" headline in their Saturday editions than would have been the case if the wire service had done what it usually does, which is to revise stories, make no change to their URLs, and effectively flush older versions down the memory hole.
The "huge gaps" headline's continued existence is pretty convenient for those who desperately want to keep portraying Trayvon Martin as an innocent, harmless victim while continuing to fan racial animosities. Based on what they have seen during the past week or so, many who are closely following the case, including well-known lawyer Alan Dershowitz, believe that the second-degree murder charge against Zimmerman should be dropped.
If there's a better explanation for what AP has done, I'd like to see it.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.