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what does operator mean?

Of the driver's five passengers, Kilduff, Baskin, and Clark of ABC could do nothing until the car stopped. Smith and Jack Bell of AP were a different breed. They were wire service reporters; they dealt in seconds. Smith's seniority had given him a clear beat, the greatest in his career, and the longer he could keep Bell out of touch with an AP operator, the longer that lead would be. So he continued to talk. He dictated one take, two takes, three, four.

what does "AP operator"mean?they are in a car, is "operator" the "phone?"

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language

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    It's the telephone operator at the Asociated Press office to whom he's dictating his story.

    Since the article is about reporters, I think the AP is a commonly used abbreviation for the "Associated Press". Although I do not know what an "AP operator" is. Using context I would guess that it is someone to whom the reporter relays the information so it could be broadcast on the news.

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