AP strangeness: Advice for Palin

sarah palin 02I tried, really tried, not to add another post to the Sarah Palin parade today. Then the Divine Ms. MZ Hemingway found this piece of strangeness. But MZ is on her way to St. Paul for more freelance work and this online offering from the Associated Press is so interesting and, well, strange, that we really need to air it before the GOP convention tonight. Here's the main question: What IS this? What is this large piece of text?

It's from the Associated Press, but it is sure not your grandfather's wire-service report. It's not a true feature or analysis essay, either.

Instead, it's four AP reporters offering their advice on what the new Republican lightning rod needs to do in her speech tonight.

Of course, you know that religion-beat specialist Eric Gorski is going to tell her to go ahead and explain where she is coming from, in terms of faith. So here's another sample, entitled "Tell Your Story."

Dear Sarah:

Keep to your faith, stick to your principles and be sure to introduce yourself. This is the advice of your fellow Republicans who are attending the party's convention.

"Remember who your faith is in and who holds you in his hand," says Crystal Kennedy, a delegate from Eagle River, Alaska.

Social conservatives and religious leaders have praised your selection as John McCain's running mate. This is a group whose support you and McCain will need to win the White House.

Jim Edwards, a delegate from Plano, Texas, has been watching you for a year as he volunteered for former GOP primary contender Mike Huckabee. Voters like Edwards are attracted to your stance on family values. He says he sees the news of your 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy as a chance highlight how families should support soon-to-be parents and show love for the unborn baby, rather than be shameful of the situation.

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez says you have much to offer, but the country is not as familiar with you.

Tell your story.

"I'm sure the American people will love her once they get to know her," Gutierrez said. "That's all they need."

By Ann Sanner

OK, that was probably some quotes out of the reporter's notebook, taken from a quick trip through the convention hall.

But, again, what was this supposed to be -- as a journalism product?

You have to ask whether this is an attempt by the AP to add some semi-blogging edge to their online offerings. Is this the AP tries to do "On Faith"? Or you could say that it was supposed to show a soft side of the mainstream press during a time when -- click here for Howard Kurtz -- many conservative religious believers are convinced that journalists are trying to get Palin, while failing to get her religion.

So GetReligion readers: What, pray tell, was going on in AP land on this?

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