The Associated Press (AP) alerted the world last week when a “senior US intelligence official” reported that Russian missiles had killed two people in Poland.
The false news published last Tuesday fueled widespread fears that Russia’s war would escalate beyond Ukraine’s borders because it said Russian missiles had strayed into the NATO member state.
According to The Washington Post, cited by The Times, the international news agency fired 35-year-old James Laporta as its national security correspondent on Monday after a brief investigation.
Two people were killed in an explosion on November 15 in the Polish village of Przewodow near the border with Ukraine.
Hours later, the AP issued a news alert that an unidentified “senior U.S. intelligence official” said the explosion was the result of Russian missiles landing in Poland.
The reporter attributed the information to a single source, despite the press service’s own guidelines that “require more than one source when the source is anonymous.”
The story was picked up by newspapers and networks around the world, with headlines and banners announcing that “Russian missiles” had hit the NATO state.
Polish and EU officials later said they believed a missile fired by Ukrainian forces was deflected and landed on the Polish border.
There has been debate on social media about whether NATO can implement Article 5 mutual defense agreement and whether the conflict in Ukraine will spread across Europe.
However, later reports indicated that the missiles, though Russian-made, were launched by Ukraine to defend against a Russian attack.
In the wake of the confusion, the original AP story was removed from the news agency’s page and replaced with a correction note.
“Earlier versions of an article published on November 15, 2022, The Associated Press incorrectly reported that Russian missiles had flown into Poland, killing two people, based on information provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity.” The note says.
“The rigorous editorial standards and practices of the Associated Press are central to AP’s work as an independent news organization. We adhere to and apply these standards, including using anonymous sources, to ensure our reporting is accurate, fair and factual,” an AP spokesperson told The Daily Beast of LaPorta. The site said when asked for comment on the shooting.
It is not yet known if others have been fired.
The AP’s statement of news values and policies reads: “Reporters who wish to use information from anonymous sources must obtain approval from their news manager before submitting a story to the bureau. The manager is responsible for checking the content and ensuring that it meets the AP guidelines”.
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