AP corrects alert about Ohio gay marriage ruling

The Associated Press issued a correction Friday after it filed a misleading alert about a judge's ruling in a gay-marriage case. "The AP initially misunderstood the scope of the judge’s statement," the news coop tells Poynter in an email.

The AP has issued a correction:

Earlier, BuzzFeed legal editor Chris Geidner called out AP after the alert went out:

The first AP tweet was retweeted more than 1,000 times.

About 25 minutes after, the AP tweeted again, indicating that the judge's ruling will force the state to recognize marriages of gay couples who married elsewhere, but won't force the state to allow gay couples to marry in Ohio. In other words, the ruling will strike down a ban on recognizing gay marriage, not a ban on gay marriage itself.

Breaking News was among the outlets to refrain from repeating the AP's news alert without further information. Instead, it issued an editor's note around 12:50 p.m. EDT:

Editor's note: The Associated Press is reporting that a federal judge says he will issue a ruling striking down Ohio's same-sex marriage ban. However, according to reporters and legal experts, the validity of that report's wording is unclear. We'll update when we know more. - Aaron

At 1:05 p.m., Breaking News tweeted the news with the appropriate context — nuance that doesn't always make it into initial reports about complicated legal decisions:

But note: Even the first BuzzFeed News tweet about the impending ruling cited the same limited AP information and not its own reporter:

  • Sam Kirkland

    Sam Kirkland is Poynter's digital media fellow, focusing on mobile and social media trends. Previously, he worked at the Chicago Sun-Times as a digital editor, where he helped launch digital magazines and ebooks in addition to other web duties.


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