AP: The News Gatekeeper is Dead! Long Live The News Gatekeeper!

from the let's-try-this-again... dept

The CEO of the Associated Press, Tom Curley, gave a speech yesterday to a group of news executives supposedly calling on them to drop their antiquated ways, learn to embrace the new opportunities of the internet and, most importantly, ditch the mindset of being the gatekeepers of the news. At least, that’s what the Associated Press’s own writeup on his speech suggests. It’s powerful stuff, but it seems a little odd. After all, isn’t this the same Associate Press that less than a month ago sued Moreover for linking to AP articles? Isn’t this the same Associated Press that pressured Google to pay for the same thing? That doesn’t sound like an organization that’s trying to stop being a gatekeeper and embracing the new opportunities of the internet. It sounds like the opposite.

So, let’s go to the details. Thankfully, the AP also published the full text of Curley’s speech so we can dig into the details a bit. While the AP reporter’s coverage of his speech definitely does capture the gist of it, it leaves out some of the key (and somewhat contradictory) details. So, while Curley says: “Our focus must be on becoming the very best at filling people?s 24-hour news needs. That’s a huge shift from the we-know-best, gatekeeper thinking” his own plan doesn’t seem to agree with that. He later says: “we’re coupling those initiatives with strong new efforts to protect news web sites from unauthorized scraping through tighter site protocols and content tagging.” Sorry, but it’s those protections against scraping that is part of the gatekeeper thinking. He also says: “Enforcement, too, must be a part. What we do comes at great cost and sacrifice, even death. We believe content should have wide distribution. We intend to be compensated for it.” and “We have the power to control how our content flows on the Web. We must use that power….” In other words, we’re going to restrict access to what we do in order to create artificial scarcity in order to charge for it. Restricting access is what might also be called gatekeeping. It seems like Curley’s big wake up call to newspaper execs is really “say goodbye to the old gatekeeper, and say hello to the new gatekeeper.”

There are plenty of business models that make sense for the Associated Press, but it’s pretty amusing for the CEO of that organization to call for getting rid of the old way of thinking and then outline what’s basically the same old thinking.

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Comments on “AP: The News Gatekeeper is Dead! Long Live The News Gatekeeper!”

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35 Comments
rachael says:

Re: That doesn't sound like an organization that's

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Prokofy Neva (profile) says:

sn’t this the same Associated Press that pressured Google to pay for the same thing?

And that’s wrong because…why? Gathering and writing and distributing news is work, and it needs to be paid, and the costs need to be covered. AP is a non-profit service that charges fees to cover these services. Um…and what’s wrong with that? Everybody is supposed to work for free for you to fill your news habit?!

Max Powers at http://ConsumerFight.com (user link) says:

The AP CEO has said basically nothing new.

So AP has not figured out how to monetize their business besides charging for news? Having someone link to their website is worthless to them?

Things have changed with the introduction of the Internet to such a wide audience and AP better realize it and adjust or they will be in trouble.

Alex Le (user link) says:

Re: Re:

well, try to live in any 3rd world countries or even China and read the news. You should be thankful for what you have for granted here (free speech) in the US. You should also eat up your attitude and start growing up, see and evaluate the pros and cons of things. Otherwise, you are a blind sheep in the herd. Guess what, the blind sheep get slaughtered first, probably by walking blindly and some wolves get a hold of it first before the sheep realizes it is heading to a wrong direction.

PhilKll says:

Not positive if this is the context, but I’m pretty sure gatekeeper is being used wrong here, in journalism its a term for the editor choosing what news is put out there, not who gets access to it and how. But also, why would people be upset about a cottage industry being built on driving people to their websites? I don’t see how that would be considered bad for business. If they were scraping entire articles and reposting them, perhaps then it would be harder to make any return on your work, but linkage seems like more of a favor.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Not positive if this is the context, but I’m pretty sure gatekeeper is being used wrong here, in journalism its a term for the editor choosing what news is put out there, not who gets access to it and how.

That was the term used by the CEO of the Associated Press, Tom Curley. Are you suggesting that you know more about journalism than the AP?

IronChef says:

Thoughts on a News 2.0 platform

I would like to see how this pans out. Is Tom Curley suggesting tagging news articles, and allowing commentary? If so, that sounds like a brilliant idea. Especially if they can have some priority based on the social graph of its contributors… TechDirt may be ahead of the ball on this one, especially if Mike and team found some way to implement this.

Drudge has been one of my primary news sites since 1999, but because it’s still in read-only web 1.0 mode, and have seemingly no need to change from their current model, I highly doubt it’s going to be as big as “the next” news site.

Sites that implement thumbs up and thumbs down functionality like Digg and Del.icio.us are good, however they fail to specialize in AP’s one area (read: news). Additionally, I enjoy the functionality of Craigslist (Yes, I said Craigslist) because they offer the luxury of going back and fixing and/or deleting the comments. Sometimes I have an interesting idea and something catches my eye and I feel inclined to post something absolutely off topic (See post #5 above) and I feel really dumb afterwards.

I believe that these simple adds of functionality– being able to update posts, ties into a social graph, and would offer more credence to author of commentary. Especially than what TD can do right now. In the end, these functional specifications increase the quality of the commentary by offering a commenter the ability to re-visit their thoughts as they dig into the topic a little more. If this is the goal of Tom Curley, please sign me up.

The struggle I see with TD is that once it’s posted, you really can’t recall it from public view. In a recent post, I saw it was indexed and cached by Google within 30 minutes.

So the organization that hosts commentary has their goals- eyeballs. But what happens when the ability to update commentary is made available?

Simple– Big threat to TechDirt.

So here’s the question of the year- If you can find a way to put commentary under a no-cache tag, you’ll see your commentary answered by less Anonomous Cowards.

Thanks!

~~ A Big Fan

gp says:

Utterly misconstrues "gatekeeper"

PhillKll was right when he said, “gatekeeper is being used wrong here. In journalism it[‘]s a term for the editor choosing what news is put out there, not who gets access to it and how.”

Trying to shift the conversation to any other aspect of this mess — above all, the question of whether you the “journalist” will get paid — makes our eyes glaze over.

So. Tell me. What part of we’re all tired as hell of being lied to by MSM and we’re not going to take it anymore don’t you understand?

AngrOaf says:

Eeeeeeeehhh… I dunno if this is being taken in the right context.
To me being a “gatekeeper” of news suggests that the news organization is controlling not only the presentation of their news but also what news is allowed to be presented. This also seems to be the initial definition of “gatekeeper” at the beginning of this article.

I think there is definitely a difference between this understanding of what what a “news gatekeeper” is and what they’re expressing here. Even though they report news of public events, the actual content in the report is their copyright. I from what I understand, they want to protect that copyright while learning to use the internet as a tool while not losing control of their copyrighted content.

You guy’s are always bashing people who are trying to keep control of their copyrighted material but there really isn’t anything wrong with wanting to do that.
I guess this is hypocritical coming from be because I pirate all my entertainment media but I really honestly don’t see anything wrong with wanting to keep ownership of your creation.

More often than not, their efforts only affect the average Joe. Assholes like me aren’t likely to get caught and aren’t usually the ones that do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You guy’s are always bashing people who are trying to keep control of their copyrighted material

Who is this ‘you guys’ that you refer to? Are they related ‘them’ and ‘they’?

I guess this is hypocritical coming from be [sic]

Then why should anyone care about anything you have to say, little troll?

JEQP says:

Where's the money?

Mike, the problem is that at some point somebody has to pay money for something. While I agree that there are other business models for AP to try than the one it’s using, if it doesn’t get fees it has to go ad-supported. And who’s going to buy ads? Content producers? But the content is digital and free, so they’re relying on ads… Social networks? Same thing. Online services? Ditto… While its true that companies selling physical goods advertise on the web, I’m not sure how well that will trickle down to AP. And that leaves advertising from start-ups trying to attract an audience, and what happens when the VC funding runs out?

There are some types of media that will probably continue to do well in terms of attracting advertising — entertainment media will attract movie ads, sports media will attract ads and so on. But the “hard news” style of news won’t do so well…who’s going to buy advertising on news of genocide in Uganda? A lot of those readers are probably of interest to advertisers, but how will they know which ones? That will require close tracking of readers, which raises privacy issues.

It’s true there are plenty of business models for AP to choose from, but all the ones I can think of involve the company protecting its content.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Where's the money?

if it doesn’t get fees it has to go ad-supported.

Considering that any payment for service is a fee, then aren’t those both the same? Don’t advertisers pay fees? So it seems to me the question isn’t about fees vs ads (both are fees) but about how and from whom fees are collected.

who’s going to buy advertising on news of genocide in Uganda

How about people who want to sell to people who read such stories?

A lot of those readers are probably of interest to advertisers,

Exactly.

but how will they know which ones? That will require close tracking of readers,

How so? You make that assumption but don’t present any basis for it.

It’s true there are plenty of business models for AP to choose from, but all the ones I can think of involve the company protecting its content.

That’s because you’ve made assumptions that prevent you from reaching any other conclusion. In other words, you’ve painted yourself into a corner. To get around that you need to go back and question your previous assumptions to see which ones stand up and which ones don’t. To get you started I’ve pointed out one of those above.

Andrew McLean says:

AP

Given that AP spends millions to get and report the news and that some reporters are even killed collecting it, what makes you think that there is anything contradictory about wanting to embrace new technology in it distribution?

Are you equating the internet with absolutely free distribution? Does something have to be free to be distributed via the Internet? If so, who do you think will sacrifice their treasure and even their lives to provide it?.

I’m reminded of what one worker in one of the failed “socialist paradises” onece said, “they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: AP

Given that AP spends millions to get and report the news and that some reporters are even killed collecting it,

Oh puhleeze! News reporting is way down the list of dangerous occupations. Way below taxi driver or even retail clerk.

Are you equating the internet with absolutely free distribution?

That seems to be what AP wants: Money for usage, and distribution for free. (sorry, Dire Straits)

Does something have to be free to be distributed via the Internet?

That’s something one might want to consider before putting something on the Internet as a lot of pay-wall business models have been tried but none have been spectacularly successful. Trying the same things that haven’t worked before and expecting different results is kind of wishful thinking.

“they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.”

How about “They pretend it’s working and we pretend to not be laughing”?

Andrew McLean says:

PS to previous post

How AP choosea to monitize internet delivery of news is l;iterally “their business”, a none of our business (we vote with our feet and that’s the extent of it).

The market will dictate the wisdom (of lake of it) of their decisions, not a bunch of pundits, who havve no” skin in the game”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: PS to previous post

How AP choosea to monitize internet delivery of news is l;iterally “their business”, a none of our business (we vote with our feet and that’s the extent of it).

I’ll comment on whatever I want to, thank you very much. If you want to put your hand over my mouth then be prepared to draw back a nub.

chris (profile) says:

the AP can sell ads like everyone else

they can sell ads just every other news org. the news is designed to make everyone feel good about being white and middle class, since it’s full of nothing dark skinned poor people killing each other.

sell ads that target white middle class people: new cars, stocks, golf clubs, insurance, and vacations. you know, the stuff you see advertised on CNN.

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