August 2, 2008

Speaking of AP: Looking at the Subscriber Newspaper Mini-Revolt

Filed under: Business Moves,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 11:28 am

Yesterday, Newsosaur, in a read-the-whole-thing post (including the comments), noted that “Displeasure with the cost and limitations of AP (Associated Press) coverage has caused editors in Ohio and Montana to create alternative online exchanges to share stories and by-pass the 162-year-old news co-operative.”

One e-mailer thinks this is the “beginning of the unraveling” of AP.

I think not. Here’s the e-mail I sent back to him:

Gotta think more about this, but it may be that AP isn’t that worried about limited access to local and state news.

They have a near-monopoly on:
- National (including WH, Congress, Wash bureaucracy).
- Business info and reports coming out of Washington.
- International (not as strong).

AP is dropping all of this content directly into Google and Yahoo nearly instantly, and thus going around all of their members (people don’t have to go to members’ web sites to read AP news). My guess is that AP is getting what in essence amounts to a lot of “protection” money from the search companies, as the alternative — to get sued for lifting their content — would seem to be a nasty one, and AP would appear to think they would prevail.

So they may say “Who cares?” to missing out on most local and state news.

Unfortunately (as I see it), people pay relatively little or no attention to local and statewide news. Of course, much of this is because Washington controls so many things.

If AP felt they had to do something to get around member freeze-outs, they could solve most of their “problem” by beefing up resources in the 50 state capitals (probably the 15-20 biggest states would be enough).

Also, how hard would it be to enlist an army of contractor-stringers, likely many from the ranks of those let go by the newspapers, who would only get paid when they generate usable local news?

The infighting will be interesting to see, but I think AP holds a lot, if not most, of the cards.

Tom

I think AP’s control of the situation is growing, and not diminishing.

This is not good news. If you doubt, read about the wire service’s news brainstorm, “Accountability Journalism,” at this Pajamas Media column by Steve Boriss (“AP’s New ‘Accountability Journalism’ Is a Sham”). You may not have thought it possible, but the bias and agenda-driven news reporting from the Associated Press are on the verge of getting even worse.

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