HOT DOG AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
I walked into the Rockefeller Center Offices of the Associated Press.
The fourth floor connected me to someone, who told me to call the AP office
(609-392-3622) that made the story--Trenton, New Jersey. I was shown the way
to the pay phones. Oh, great.
Donna de la Cruz, who wrote yesterday's "America's Hot Dogs
Immortalized," wasn't in, but I spoke to her editor.
I told him that the hot dog wasn't first introduced to America at the
1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, and that Tad Dorgan didn't coin the name "hot
dog" in 1906. I spent many years researching the term, I've traveled across
the country, and my work has been published in scholarly journals.
"We used Webster's," the editor said.
Well, he should have used the Random House HDAS H-O, or the OED, or even
Leonard Zwilling's TAD LEXICON. Any computer search on T. A. Dorgan should
pull up the TAD LEXICON, but no "hot dog" writers ever research this far.
The editor realized that the story was wrong. Sure it's trivial, but
this story was read by thousands of people--many of AP's newspapers, and it
was a feature story on AOL NEWS all day. Maybe MILLIONS of people read it.
And the story was wrong!
It was a good experience on how the AP corrects itself. What happens
when I read an AP health story and it declares "XYZ Cures Cancer!" How would
I know it's true?
"We're not going to do anything," the editor told me.
I'm no Richard Jewell, but I have a real problem with that.