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.