Newspapers Beginning To Ditch The Associated Press?

from the no-surprise-there dept

The Associated Press has been having a hard time keeping up with the times. While there was the highly publicized situation where it threatened some bloggers with its own, highly questionable definition of fair use, a much bigger deal is that it’s increasingly competing with its own member newspapers by doing things like cutting deals with Google that take traffic away from those member papers’ own sites. Apparently, some of those newspapers are paying attention. Romenesko points us to the news that the Star Tribune in Minnesota has alerted the AP that its canceling its membership. It will be worth watching to see if other newspapers start joining in as well. The AP has had many years to learn how to adapt and change in the internet era, and so far it’s failed repeatedly. Seeing its member newspapers leaving is just the inevitable result of its botched strategy.

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Companies: associated press, star tribune

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Comments on “Newspapers Beginning To Ditch The Associated Press?”

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Saragon says:

Many other papers also doing so

From a diary at Daily Kos (

“The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is the latest paper to cancel AP service. In Washington, The Spokesman Review of Spokane canceled around the same time that The Bakersfield Californian cut ties. Several smaller newspapers have joined in. In Ohio, eight of the top newspapers, including The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Columbus Dispatch, The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Toledo Blade, decided to create their own network, the Ohio News Organization. Now they share local news without submitting it to the AP.”

mobiGeek says:

Re: News Wire

But the AP is not in the business of being a news wire. They need to understand what it is they are actually selling, and adjust to the changes in that market.

As was posted in a thread here last week, the person that buys a 1/4″ drill bit didn’t want a 1/4″ drill bit…they wanted a 1/4″ hole. Home Depot realizes they aren’t in the market to sell tools and materials, they market (and aim to sell) completed DIY projects.

The AP needs to think and adjust in a similar fashion.

Ferin (profile) says:

Bad content, too

To be honest, I’ve kinda given up on the AP. Anymore it seems like all they do is pick up press releases they’re handed and reprint them. I have yet to see a story about a marijuana grow bust where they talk to somebody who supports legalizing marjuana, or one about file sharing where they talk to anyone besides the mpaa/riaa. Similar tactics abound in every other category.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Bad content, too

“To be honest, I’ve kinda given up on the AP. Anymore it seems like all they do is pick up press releases they’re handed and reprint them. “

This is absolutely correct. It makes me want to puke everytime I see one of these farily obvious press-releases regurgitated as news. Good riddence . . . I can read the press release without the middle man.

Brooks says:

It's also a quality issue

Techdirt misses the important point that newspapers might be ok with a supplier competing with them if that supplier had demonstrably superior content. But the AP’s content has gone from the gold standard to mediocre at best.

Take the AP’s political coverage — its Washington bureau chief was in talks to take a job with the McCain campaign, and some of his glowing complimentary emails to Karl Rove have been published. Oddly enough, the Washington bureau publishes pieces which are largely opinion, and which support McCain (“Mitt Romney’s victory in Michigan was a defeat for authenticity in politics”) and attack Obama (“he is bordering on arrogance”). Both of those examples are from putative *news* pieces, not opinion pieces.

Local papers catch heat for that. Readers write to complain that their political coverage is heavily biased. So, yeah, local papers don’t like the AP competing with them, but they also don’t like the fact that the trust they place in AP to provide top-notch stories that they don’t have the resources to do themselves is increasingly misplaced.

The AP is in the process of converting itself to a higher-volume, lower-margin, lower-quality organization. That’s the real story here.

robby b (profile) says:

AP's ?quality?

I wrote to AP recently about the poor technical quality of AP videos on COMCAST’s FAN news video service:

Sound levels range from nearly to totally inaudible.

This is intriguing (like a silent film newsreel) for animal planet -type videos. But it is disrespectful to victims and viewers when AP’s disaster news videos are silent (with only very few subtitles) — and many are.

Earlier, when I complained to COMCAST about FAN’s undependable video technical (e.g. frequent very meager sound levels, especially for AP videos) and editorial (e.g. videos truncated in mid-sentence), they informed me that AP feeds frequently mismatched proper interface specifications.

I didn’t believe COMCAST.
Indeed COMCAST’s FAN has an editorial (and technical) responsibility to COMCAST’s users. We deserve quality videos.

In cases of technical faults, including faulty feeds, FAN’s editorial annotations should notify users of the fault. For sound level faults, FAN should insert subtitles providing best representation of sound track’s probable content (bracketed with question marks where uncertain) as can be derived by FAN’s editorial staff using COMCAST’s highly sophisticated hardware and software tools.

Nonetheless — indeed irregardless of COMCAST’s unsatisfactory editorial responsibility to its users — sadly, AP’s published ethics and standards have diminished in reality to those of a junkyard dog’s bullying threats protecting its limited valuables.
[No insult intended to junkyards and the dogs that protect them.]

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