AP Gets It Wrong Again: Wants To Restrict Certain Reports To 500 Words

from the you're-not-bloggers dept

It seems that the Associated Press continues to struggle to figure out how to deal with this whole online thing. It's still trying to revamp its pricing structure after a bunch of newspapers canceled their contracts as they were pretty pissed off that the AP is effectively competing with its own member papers. The AP has also had a bit of a run-in with bloggers over its ridiculous fair use policies. Its latest move seems to, once again, be getting pretty much everything backwards. Famed film critic Roger Ebert is complaining that the AP has sent down word from on-high that all entertainment articles must be 500 words or shorter -- including film reviews, interviews, news stories, trend pieces and (best of all) "think pieces." Apparently, if you need more than 500 words to get people thinking, you're a bit too verbose. On top of that, the AP is asking those same entertainment writers to focus on more salacious, attention grabbing stories in picking what to write.

It's not difficult to see what's going on here. The AP is trying to be more "bloggy." Shorter, more attention grabbing pieces? Apparently, it's decided that people online only want to read the quick hits on salacious stories. Of course, despite what some may think, that's not really true. The AP has an opportunity to be better than all of that. It could draw serious attention by creating real content that people want, rather than running after the latest fad. But, apparently, that's not in the AP's plan. It has the resources to do what various small-time blogs can't do, but apparently, it's going in the other direction. Perhaps it's not too surprising, but it's no less a mistake.

Yes, short, attention grabbing stories get traffic, but that doesn't mean good, thorough journalism would get ignored. The problem the AP is having isn't that its stories are too long, or not attention-grabbing enough. It's that it still views itself as a gatekeeper of information, rather than an enabler of both news gathering and news distribution. Of course, with each misstep by the AP, others are quickly moving in to take its place.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Mike, Dec 2nd, 2008 @ 7:45am

    Word count?

    And how many words are in THIS post?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    John, Dec 2nd, 2008 @ 7:50am

    CNN Wire Service

    Considering CNN's ability to use iReporters, this may be the way for their upcoming wire service to really compete. Of course, it doesn't hurt that CNN's service is reportedly cheaper than AP.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2008 @ 7:52am

    Re: Word count?

    359 words, which I guess makes your point.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2008 @ 8:42am

    All Mike's Articles for December Word Counts

    AP Gets It Wrong Again: Wants To Restrict Certain Reports To 500 Words-359
    UK Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Journalist Police Wiretapped-169
    Oh No, Now The Rapid Internet Growth Is Going To Use Up All Our Electricity-247
    Singapore Fines The WSJ For Editorials It Considered Contempt Of Court-314
    Belgian Politician Caught Drunk In NYC Bar; Blames Bloggers-288
    What's Wrong With Actually Turning Electronics Off?-163
    Court Says Yahoo And Google Aren't Liable For Gambling Ads-284
    Small Business Strategies For The New Year-404
    Google As Benevolent Dictator: The Gatekeeper And The Data Collector-427
    Atari Backs Away From Davenport Lyons, As More Innocent Threat Letters Are Uncovered-184
    Thanks To The Lori Drew Case, I Can Make Each Of You A Criminal-466
    Finland Thinks Russia Violated Its Design Right With Military Camouflage-105
    More Judges Realizing That Statutory Damages In Copyright Suits Out Of Line-212
    Guns N' Roses' Lawyer Says Dr. Pepper Giveaway Was Fraud... Even Though Axl Rose Liked It-418
    Rockstar To Use SecuROM DRM On Grand Theft Auto-162

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Erv Server, Dec 2nd, 2008 @ 8:58am

    UP

    The UP is a sick horse that humanely needs to be put down

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2008 @ 10:39am

    ADD

    I got A.D.D. no stories more than 500 words pls

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2008 @ 11:31am

    tl;dr

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    kamm, Dec 2nd, 2008 @ 12:15pm

    My post from an earlier AP thread...

    ...shows pretty clearly that this utter lack of competency is present for several years now:

    "AP is a worthless piece of crap, full of completely fuckin clueless, arrogant amateurs...
    I remember when only couple of years ago they ran some junk piece about Dracula in the Medieval Age Transylvania and the author kept talking about Romania in the Medieval Age - which in fact didn't even exist until late 19th century, let alone that Transylvania was part of Kingdom of Hungary/Austro-Hungarian Monarchy until the end of WWI...

    As someone with relevant EU roots I was first baffled by such gross errors, unscrupulous rewriting of European history then I noticed it was written by someone from Bukarest, Romania and it became even more ridiculous: it's one thing that apparently Ceausescu's alternative history is still alive but how on Earth did it make to the front pages of AP???

    It DID speak volumes about the sheer level of amateurism, the complete lack of the even most basic editorial standards, let alone journalistic integrity and I never visited their site again, always skip every AP link ever since.

    If you add it that AP's head honcho was offered a post by McCain you can sum up AP pretty shortly: crooked, clueless, incompetent, amateur, worthless PoC."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Michelle, Dec 3rd, 2008 @ 12:19pm

    Wow.

    This makes me really sad. I used to scour the AP every day looking for stuff to put on our magazine's website, and the entertainment stuff devolved over time. I think it was around the time that they wrote Britney Spears' obit in advance, all of it went downhill from there. It became salacious and ridiculous drivel.

    I get the push for pithier content, but Ebert should lobby with other AP contributors about the limit on think pieces. Or perhaps these writers can just take their work somewhere that it will be valued...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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