Fournier is a main engine in a high-stakes experiment at the 162-year old wire to move from its signature neutral and detached tone to an aggressive, plain-spoken style of writing that Fournier often describes as “cutting through the clutter.”
A dispatch Fournier filed in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina began: “The Iraqi insurgency is in its last throes. The economy is booming. Anybody who leaks a CIA agent’s identity will be fired. Add another piece of White House rhetoric that doesn’t match the public’s view of reality: Help is on the way, Gulf Coast.”
Fournier cited the article in an essay titled “Accountability Journalism: Liberating reporters and the truth” he wrote for the June 1 issue of the AP’s internal newsletter, The Essentials, as an example of how to be “provocative without being partisan … truth-tellers without being editorial writers.”
The essay was preceded by an unsigned note declaring that “It’s AP’s goal this year (and henceforth) to make this accountability journalism a consistent theme in our coverage of public affairs, politics and government. We have unmatched resources and expertise in every state to report whether government officials are doing the job for which they were elected and keeping the promises they make.”
“Katrina was a good example of when the journalism community got it right, because it was staring us in the face,” Fournier, seated in the AP’s Washington bureau, told Politico.