AP Continues To Misunderstand: You Don't Succeed By Limiting The Spread Of Content

from the backwards-again dept

Watching the Associated Press implode in public is, frankly, a bit disappointing. Here's an organization that has tremendous assets that could be put to amazing use in the creation and dissemination of online news... and it's basically doing everything backwards. Zachary Seward is posting some of the details of the AP's plans, as outlined in a memo sent to AP members, starting with its plan to hold back some of its content from the wire service. To be honest, without seeing the details, my first thought was that this could make a bit of sense. After all, the whole concept of a "wire service" online doesn't make much sense. It was designed to get news out to a number of different sources to make sure that all newspapers could cover some key stories. But when anyone can access any news online, redistributing the identical story to a bunch of different websites really seems rather pointless.

So I had hoped this was a recognition of the fact that this aspect of the AP's business didn't make much sense any more, and maybe (just maybe!) the AP was finally getting down to the business of learning how to use the web for what it's good at, rather than pretending it still needs to do what is no longer needed.

No such luck, unfortunately.

You see, the AP's plan is all about locking up content. The reason some content won't go out on the wire is because the AP (incorrectly) believes that it can hoard the content and get all the traffic, and thus it will screw over its members by not giving them the content. If I were a member paper, this would be the point at which I quit the AP. The AP is effectively saying "you'll get the content that doesn't matter, and which everyone has, and we'll keep the good stuff."

And, it gets even sillier, as the AP admits that it expects all its member papers to link back to this content that the AP will seek to control at the expense of its members, in order to generate Google juice to the AP's site, off the backs of its member papers. I can't see how this will help members at all, though it's likely to piss them off.

Perhaps that's a good thing, though the execution is bizarre. The AP's members may be a part of the problem, but trying to convince them that the AP hoarding content is better for them, and expecting them to buy it, seems like a long shot.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 6:56am

    All these discussions of business models, and yet you can't see it. Wow.

    Mike, simple rule: The AP is run effectively for it's affiliates and by it's affiliates. If the AP has more income, there is less cost to it's affiliates to be part of the system, or AP can afford to offer more services at the same net cost for the end affiliates.

    Since the end user sites mostly don't montetize the traffic very well anyway, sending it off to the AP main site isn't going to hurt, and might actually help the AP to maintain it's market position and expand services over time.

    It's a business model. You might not like it because it isn't FREE!, but it is a model. Rather than mocking them every couple of days, why not start your own news service and compete, if the market it that obvious to you?

     

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      Free Capitalist, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 7:08am

      Re:

      You might not like it because it isn't FREE!, but it is a model


      Are you posting on the right article? AP isn't talking about PPV news here, just hoarding the ad dollars. Sounds like a great way to put a lot of journalists out on the streets.

       

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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Aug 13th, 2009 @ 7:16am

      Re:

      "If the AP has more income, there is less cost to it's affiliates to be part of the system,"

      But if the AP basically kicks them out of the system by not giving them news then it still ends up bad.

      "Since the end user sites mostly don't montetize the traffic very well anyway"

      So, punish all because some can't monetize?

      "It's a business model. You might not like it because it isn't FREE!, but it is a model"

      Suing your clients into the ground is a model, just not a good one. This won't work because people who pay for access to AP are now not allowed to pay to get access to the AP. I don't know about you but that would piss me off, especially if my business model was built on the idea of disseminating the news from the AP.

      Think about it, if eyeballs are going away from your site, then your advertisement value goes down. And if you have a pay wall up, why would people pay when they just get redirected to the AP's free page?

      If I ran a website based off of the AP, I'd be trying to figure out how to get the hell away from them.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 7:22am

        Re: Re:

        Can you try that post again in english?

         

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          Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Aug 13th, 2009 @ 7:24am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Let me make it simple for you.

          News sites pay to use the news from the AP. If the AP won't allow their news to be on any other sites than the point of the AP is lost.

          That simple enough for you?

           

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      some old guy, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 7:56am

      Re:

      You think the race to irrelevance is a business model? wow. you're stupid.

       

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      Trails, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 7:59am

      Re: Strawmans, false dichotomies, and cognitive dissonance galore!!

      "The AP is run effectively for it's affiliates and by it's affiliates. If the AP has more income, there is less cost to it's affiliates to be part of the system."

      The AP charges X for access to their wire service. Now they're putting less content into their wire service. As I read it, the AP just reduced the value of their wire service product, in a horribly misguided attempt to build enhance the value of their direct-to-user site.

      The funny thing is the AP still behaves as if it's in a dominant market position, where alternatives are limited. They aren't; the market's already passed them by, they're just too blinded to know it.

      "Since the end user sites mostly don't montetize the traffic very well anyway, sending it off to the AP main site isn't going to hurt, and might actually help the AP to maintain it's market position and expand services over time."

      So, because end user sites don't monetize the content well(this is both a generalization and debatable), AP's giving them less? And the AP suggests this is a good thing for them? Will the AP do a better job of monetizing the content? And if so, with what? Their pie in the sky, opt-in metadata-based DRM pipedream? If if I accept the assumptions you make, and I don't, the statement quoted above isn't even internally consistent.

      AP is certainly within their rights, stupid is perfectly legal. However, to see this as anything other than monumentally stupid is self-delusion.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 8:11am

      Re:

      "Rather than mocking them every couple of days, why not start your own news service and compete, if the market it that obvious to you?"

      Why? There's already plenty of competition for AP out there.

       

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 13th, 2009 @ 7:59am

    Here's the dirty little secret

    "The AP is effectively saying "you'll get the content that doesn't matter, and which everyone has, and we'll keep the good stuff.""

    And that's why the AP is doomed to failure. They have built their business around fanning flames and generating interest in international and national stories that don't deserve the interest. That's how you get close up pictures of protesters that make it look like there are more there than there actually are.

    Fanning the flames, that's what they're doing. Their goal, and to a large part they have succeeded, is to turn world events that can't be effectively reported on at a local level into the daily Soaps.

    "Ooooh, I can't wait to get the latest analysis of what's going on in Iran!" Please, don't make me laugh. I need a blurb about Iran, that's it. Still fucked up? Got it. I don't need to see ANOTHER "N. Korea waves its collective dick at the USA". Just tell me when something's changed.

    Give me the LOCAL news. You know what my favorite part of the Chicago RedEye is? The local Metromix section, telling me where the food/drink specials are, what new restaurants are opening, what local acts are playing where. The national section? Nah.

    "Barack Obama says Republicans are bad. Republicans say Obama is Satan incarnate."

    Shocking.

    Idiots.

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 13th, 2009 @ 8:14am

    I think I might have said this before .....

    I am to lazy to check if I have said this before ....

    All thats needed to kill the AP is for the news outlets to set up a server each with a large SAN, post news (written,video,etc), and replicate the news to all other servers. Effectively excluding the AP and saving a large amount of money for the news outlets.

    hmmmmm... do I want to go there??? sure, why the hell not

    261 note/entry) Create a plug-in for the system that allows FTP/P2P/WebService based replication of Project Groups, With version/revision tracking capabilities.

    262) Replication plug-in allows for Group and subgroup replication.

    263) Replication plugin allows for individual and group access levels.

    264) replication plugin allows for Draft and publish functions based on groups and individuals.

    NOTE - These are actually usable for other sections of the project.

    MIKE would you like to take a look at the business plan when I put the finishing touches on it?

     

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    deadzone (profile), Aug 13th, 2009 @ 8:24am

    Amazing

    It's so crazy to watch all of these major businesses freak out about the Internet and literally jump to their deaths off of the highest cliff they can find.

    I'm just shocked that none of them seem to be able to figure out how to use the Internet to their advantage in a way that isn't blindly stupid and ignorant.

    I say GOOD RIDDANCE - learn how to adapt or die.

     

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      jjmsan (profile), Aug 13th, 2009 @ 9:43am

      Re: Amazing

      I don't think anyone has figured out how to use the internet to their advantage. Newspapers in particular. It has been pointed out that much of the problem that papers have is caused by the costs of acquisitions they made because it was assumed that "communications" would always be in demand. So the holding corporations bought TV stations, other papers etc. (The Chicago Tribune as an example.) When they started having money problems they eliminated all the features that made the assets unique to streamline costs. Once they did that I had no greater incentive to read the Tribune over the LA Times or watch NBC local news over CNN. A major problem is that the businesses that may come to replace them will not immediately start to make money and it seems if you do not make a profit your first or second quarter your attempt is branded a failure and investment money and credit dry up. This means replacement attempts are extremely low cost and I think this draws out the process.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 9:22am

    The AP is owned by Reuters, and Reuters is owned by the Rothschilds. You do the math.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 9:33am

    What I don't understand is this: AP is creating scarcities. Isn't that the whole point of FREE? Give some of it away, but make certain things scarce?

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 13th, 2009 @ 9:38am

      Re:

      "What I don't understand is this: AP is creating scarcities. Isn't that the whole point of FREE? Give some of it away, but make certain things scarce?"

      What scarcities? All I see them doing is attempting to lock up information that will likely be desemminated anyways. To me, that's trying to create an ARTIFICIAL scarcity. What am I missing?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 1:28pm

        Re: Re:

        Sort of like the Techdirt Crystal Ball?

         

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          Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 13th, 2009 @ 2:17pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Sort of like the Techdirt Crystal Ball?"

          Actually, not exactly the same, but close. I've been fairly supportive of this site and Mike since reading regularly, but that Crystal Ball thing has always bothered me for my previously stated reasons.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 7:10pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It's why it makes me wonder, this is a "do as I say,not do as I do" sort of concept. The scarcities that Techdirt fans are suppose to pay for are pretty much all artificial in creation (limited editions t-shirts are only limited by the desire to print more, signed books are only scarce if the author doesn't do many book signings, etc). More over, they are an almost entirely artificial construct for a blog.

            When Techdirt does it, it's CwF, when the AP does it, "t's basically doing everything backwards."

             

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              Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 13th, 2009 @ 7:56pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "It's why it makes me wonder, this is a "do as I say,not do as I do" sort of concept. The scarcities that Techdirt fans are suppose to pay for are pretty much all artificial in creation (limited editions t-shirts are only limited by the desire to print more, signed books are only scarce if the author doesn't do many book signings, etc). More over, they are an almost entirely artificial construct for a blog."

              And here's where we take a single conciliatory remark on my part regarding one tiny aspect of the experiment and attempt to expound upon it to include the whole thing....FAIL!

              The Tshirts are a scarcity for the dual reason that they aren't in infinite supply AND they're a physical, tangible entity.

              The book collection is a scarcity because they're signed, physical entities, AND gathered in a collection they are not normally found in which provides a service in not having to go out and get them yourself.

              So no. I'm an honest person. I think the Crystal Ball thing is delaying content. I don't buy the argument that it's content that would be released at the same time anyway, for several reasons, amongst them that I have noticed what seems to be a decline in posts overall during national work hours 7-8p CST. And where the hell have all of the other writers gone all of the sudden? As soon as the experiment started, almost no sign of Blaise and that other ugly dude with the dark hair. What the fuck is up with that?

              Overall, however, you're an idiot and they are practicing what they preach. I'd be totally in line if it weren't for that damned crystal ball (which no one seems to comment favorably on anyway).

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 8:13pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                haha.

                Think about it - just because something is tangible doesn't make it scarce. How many t-shirts in the universe? How many chinese sweat shops that would gladly reproduce the "scarce" shirt for about $1 a copy? It isn't truly scarce, it's artificially scarce.

                The books are the same thing. Yes, having many of them together is convenient, but the books themselves are not scarce (most of them can be bought on Amazon or similar), so the only think is the autograph, which is indeed scarce, but doesn't add much to the reading of the book. It too is in the end an artificial scarcity, which could be resolved with a signing machine that could autograph every book leaving the factory.

                These things are only scarcities because Mike has declared them so, in part to support the idea of "infinite" goods. To consider most of these goods truly scarce is a pretty big stretch of economics.

                As for "where is Blaise and the other ugly dude", you have to remember that most of the people posting on Techdirt appear to be students (some of them first year, which makes me wonder about their expert status) and they are probably all off doing what students do during the summer - partying hard or actually working for a living to pay for the next semester. Give it another 30 -45 days, and they will all reappear.

                 

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      Free Capitalist, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 9:50am

      Re:

      A scarcity of news is like a scarcity of idiots. The concept is great, but impracticable. People will go on recounting facts, and idiots will still run the country.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 9:51am

      Re:

      This is like a bottled water company saying it's illegal to drink water, unless you buy it from them.

      If it's impossible to make something scarce, stop trying.

       

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    barrenwaste (profile), Aug 13th, 2009 @ 9:51am

    Re:

    Nope, not missing anything. They are attempting to CREATE scarcity. Not only that, but they are doing so in a way that alienates thier major customers. Add that all up with a product that is quite easily found at the expenditure of only a few minutes, and you have a company doomed to fail miserably.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 10:47am

    They want to control the news so they can control what you "think" you know is news. Once news is free and they (bankers) can't control it they can't brain wash you anymore. Every bit of news is hand picked by them. If they don't want you to know about it you will not see it. That's why they hate the net.

     

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      Overcast (profile), Aug 13th, 2009 @ 11:27am

      Re:

      They want to control the news so they can control what you "think" you know is news. Once news is free and they (bankers) can't control it they can't brain wash you anymore. Every bit of news is hand picked by them. If they don't want you to know about it you will not see it. That's why they hate the net.

      Bingo - he should win the prize :)

      It's good to see some people really have their eyes open.

       

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    WammerJammer, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 10:59am

    AP Continues To Misunderstand: You Don't Succeed By Limiting The Spread Of Content

    This is the same OLD story of old style corporations believing you can own the content from news.
    News is the reporting of history no matter how insignificant. To say that one entity owns history and it's reporting is a crime against all humanity.
    It allows for bias and the re-editing of the content to reflect the views of the owners. We know where that leads.
    ALL NEWS SHOULD BE AUTOMATICALLY PLACED INTO THE PUBLIC DOMAIN

     

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    Overcast (profile), Aug 13th, 2009 @ 11:25am

    You got it all wrong Mike - they should; in fact limit the spread of content - as a matter of fact, just to be safe, if should never, ever leave their corporate network.

    If you want to read AP content - you should have to literally drive there, sign some legal forms, be patted down, and ran through a metal detector. Then ONLY being allowed to read AP stories on their own computers, that are isolated from all other networks as well as being observed by corporate security - just to be sure the content doesn't get out.

    Please let them know this would be the best plan to pursue. It would open up the market some and allow 'new media' to get an even firmer grasp on the market.

     

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    Evan, Aug 13th, 2009 @ 6:34pm

    The AP has been around for many times as long as Tech Dirt, and the Internet, and it will probably outlive them both.

    If the AP holds back content, members will be forced to play along? Why? because half of your local newspaper is filled with AP reports as it is, because they've cut half their staff, because they don't have classified ad revenue to pay them anymore.

     

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    Jericho, Aug 15th, 2009 @ 11:58pm

    AP? Never heard of them.

     

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