Tweets tell AP to name the winner: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The results of an election in New York this week caught many people by surprise.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old newcomer, beat Rep. Joe Crowley, a 10-term incumbent, in a congressional district that includes parts of Queens and the Bronx. Here’s how The Associated Press reported this news on Twitter:

tweet-nyprimary

Many Twitter users wondered why the wire service didn’t identify Ocasio-Cortez as the winner in the tweet, with many imploring the AP to “say her name.” Here’s a sampling of other responses:

  • When do you think she will be worthy enough for her name to be published?
  • How about: “Incumbent congressman defeated by 28-year-old progressive Latina activist, Boston University graduate, and entrepreneur Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez”?
  • She has a name, y’all.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, the next member of the US House of Representatives: Young Challenger.

I understand the pushback, but I do not think the AP intended to slight Ocasio-Cortez by leaving out her name in this tweet.

Editors were probably using the news judgment that I did when I worked at newspapers: Names of people familiar to readers appeared in print headlines; lesser-known people were described by job title, geographic area or affiliation to a company, university, etc.

In this instance, Crowley is a high-ranking Democrat in the House. Ocasio-Cortez is running for office for the first time. He’s more prominent, so his name is in the big type.

That’s an old way of thinking, however. Print headlines typically have room for four to six words. Tweets have a generous limit of 280 characters, so editors at the AP had plenty of space to identify both candidates by their full names there.

Subsequent tweets by the AP include Ocasio-Cortez’s name, as they should. She won, and her name is now recognized across the political landscape.

 

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