The Associated Press is considering charging an extra fee for early access to its stories
. The AP's Tom Curley believes that news organizations like Yahoo, Google and Microsoft, would be willing to pay a premium for a 20-30 minute head start on scoops. Now, lest some of you compare this product with Techdirt's own Crystal Ball
offering, there is a key difference. AP's product depends on the timeliness
of its stories, whereas Techdirt's stories are more focused on analysis -- we do not focus on breaking stories, but when we do, we do not hold them back for the Crystal Ball subscribers to view them. In any case, while this may sound like an enlightened idea for the AP, I'm not really sure it makes much sense. Currently, all of AP's licensees get all of the scoops at the same time, off the same wire. With this system, what the AP is doing is effectively weakening that existing product, and then creating a "new" product that, when the dust settles, is really what most of the customers were getting in the first place. It's not that the scoops are released 20-30 minutes sooner
, but rather, if you don't pay the premium, you get the stories you would normally get later
. Now, there's nothing wrong with this model, for example, stock quote services have long been able to charge more for real-time information, but for the AP to market this as a premium service seems like disingenuous marketing. Furthermore, given the AP's track record for trying to claim ownership over the news that it reports (like creating a DRM system for news
), what happens when the now-hamstrung AP wire is scooped by a reporter who was tipped off by AP's own product?