Come on, Agence France-Presse! That $82,600 handbag is *hardly* a record-setter

Letters to Romenesko

From DONN PEARLMAN, “former Chicago journalist/broadcaster now on ‘The Dark Side of the Force’ (PR)”: What can you do when a major news organization refuses to correct (or even acknowledge) an inaccurate story that is primarily based on a gross error of fact? It’s certainly frustrating.

This bag isn't a record-setter

This bag isn’t a record-setter

On or about May 27, Agence France-Presse distributed a story worldwide apparently based on an incorrect news release from a Paris auction house stating that an Hermès Birkin handbag had sold for a world record price of US$82,600. However, the actual, significantly higher record was set more than a year earlier at $203,150 in a New York City auction conduced by my client, Dallas, Texas-based Heritage Auctions, a leader in the rapidly growing luxury accessories auctions market. A quick online, fact-checking search by AFP would have revealed the correct information about a record price.

If AFP editors thought it was an apples-and-oranges comparison because the handbag sold by Heritage had been “enhanced” with diamonds (by Hermès), there are still five other “unenhanced” Birkin handbags sold at auction by Heritage that all topped the inaccurately claimed “record” price in Paris reported by AFP in their recent story.

As of today, I have not had a reply to the two polite emails I sent to AFP editors pointing out their error and requesting a correction. …As a former inhabitant of newsrooms in Chicago, Kansas City and elsewhere, I know it’s not easy to keep track of everything, but you’d think I would at least get a standard “thank you for your inquiry” response from AFP.

Care to respond, AFP?


From JOHN DORSCHNER, retired journalist (after four decades with the Miami Herald): CBS News Monday night put on their new correspondent Condi Rice to say that US must take firm action in Syria. No mention of her role in the Iraq escalation, lies. I’m deeply disturbed by how the media is leading us into another quagmire that will do nothing to stop sectarian violence (look at Iraq, Afghanistan). There wasn’t even a hint of balance or reporting in the Rice appearance, no possibility that it is time for US to stop playing the role of No. 1 meddler in the world’s problems.