The Associated Press's most recent story on the controversial Starbucks USA Today "Race Together" campaign came out Wednesday evening.
In that story, AP Food Industry Writer Candice Choi quoted Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at his company's annual shareholders' meeting predicting that "Some in the media will criticize Starbucks for having a political agenda," but that "Our intentions are pure." Perhaps they are, but I suspect that certain materials company and USA Today have produced in connection with the campaign won't pass any readers' "pure intentions" test. Take USA Today's "How Much of What You Know About Race Is True?" test. Full contents follow the jump.
Vickie Thomas and the news department at Detroit TV station WWJ really ought to be ashamed of themselves. The open question is whether they even know enough to be ashamed.
In reporting on a Motor City McDonald's store which was forced to close — whether it was for a few hours or all day and night isn't disclosed — Thomas quoted a "protester" claiming that "McDonald’s made like $500 billion last year." Most readers would interpret "made" as the company's annual profit. The company's worldwide net income in 2012 was $5.5 billion, barely 1 percent of the protester's completely unchallenged figure. The "like $500 billion" cited and allowed to stand is also 14 times larger than the $35.6 billion in gross sales at all of McDonald's U.S. franchised and company-owned stores.
I don't know whether AP Food Industry Writer Candice Choi misidentified the union responsible for the final demise of Hostess late last year deliberately or out of ignorance.
But in the final five paragraphs of her report on the company's sale of several of its best-known brands to two investment groups, Choi definitely blew it (bolds are mine throughout this post):
From the headlines to the verbiage in many establishment press write-ups, it would be easy to believe that the just-resolved controversy over interest rates on student loans affects virtually everyone in college who has borrowed money and anyone who graduated (or didn't) who borrowed and is still owes Uncle Sam.
That isn't so. To cite just one example, readers of Christine Armario's Saturday morning report at the Associated Press have to work way too hard to figure that out. Additionally those who listen to snippets of Armario's work on TV and radio broadcasts probably won't hear what she doesn't get to until her third paragraph:
If you only read Thursday's coverage of Bank of America's decision to impose a $5 monthly debit card fee by Associated Press Personal Finance Writer Candice Choi, you would have no idea that last year's "Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act" triggered BofA's decision. The legislation gave the Federal Reserve the power to limit debit card interchange fees. The Fed's limit -- 21 cents plus 0.5% of each purchase transaction -- basically cut the banks' fees by about half from their pre-Dodd-Frank level. CardHub.com estimates that the cap will reduce banks' fee income by $9.4 billion annually.
Ms. Choi only cited the existence of "a new rule" in her opening paragraph. She then waited until the ninth paragraph to vaguely cite the existence of "a regulation." It hardly seems accidental that most news consumers who didn't follow the fee fight a year ago will probably have the impression that banks are driving the fee increases, as the following excerpt will demonstrate (bolds are mine):