Flash!: The Associated Press Covers the World

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Vincent Alabiso, Kelly Smith Tunney, Chuck Zoeller
Associated Press, 1998 - Associated Press - 200 pages
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THE ASSOCIATED PRESS is the world's foremost news organization; it, more than any other source, shapes the news that Americans -- indeed the world -- see, hear and read every day. Here, more than 150 of the AP's greatest photographs, including many Pulitzer Prize winners, have been brought together in a moving and historic record of some of the major news events and personalities of the 20th century, revealing moments of triumph and of tragedy. From famous images such as the American flag rising over Iwo Jima and a young Cassius Clay exultant over a prostrate Sonny Liston to gripping up-to-the-minute news and sports photos from around the world, the reader is brought face to face with the significant political issues and personal achievements of our time.

In a violent world, the news often is collected at a steep human cost. The last dispatch of the AP reporter covering Custer's campaign against the Sioux in 1876 read, "I go with Custer and will be at the death", and so he was. When an AP photographer was killed in Somalia in 1993, 12 others volunteered to take his place. In his introduction, Peter Arnett, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting for the AP from Vietnam, asks, "What kind of organization can ask that of a person, to permit the risking of life for something as transitory as a news story?" His answer: one with a clear and idealistic commitment to its mission -- to report the news accurately, fairly and speedily.

These professional ideals began to take form almost as soon as the AP was founded in 1848. The journalistic ethos that guides the nation's newspapers first took root at the AP, where, as one reporter wrote even before the Civil War, the assignment was "to betruthful and impartial". For the accepted version of what Abraham Lincoln actually said at Gettysburg, historians turn to the dispatch of an AP reporter. "If democracy is the voice of the people", Arnett writes, "then the AP is its stenographer. From its humdrum 'basic mission' of covering routine spot news events of the day, through the deliberations of elected officials and on to natural and man-made disasters, the AP takes the pulse of American life, and increasingly the world's".

The AP's photographic service began in 1927, and by 1935 the agency had pioneered the sending of photos via wire. Today, in our increasingly visual culture, the AP is a leader in the use of technology that can disseminate images -- both still and video -- around the world, instantaneously. The AP's influential photographs (seen by millions of newspaper readers every day) are documents that frequently become iconic symbols of major news events. Along with many marvelous behind-the-scenes photographs of journalists at work and an illuminating history of the organization, they help tell the story of journalism at its best.

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About the author (1998)

Alabiso is vice president and executive photo editor of A.P.

Tunney is assistatn to the president of AP and director of corporate communications.

Zoeler is director of the AP photo Library.

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