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.

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Comments on “AP Gets It Wrong Again: Wants To Restrict Certain Reports To 500 Words”

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9 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: All Mike's Articles for December Word Counts

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kamm says:

My post from an earlier AP thread...

…shows pretty clearly that this utter lack of competency is present for several years now:

“AP is a worthless piece of crap, full of completely fuckin clueless, arrogant amateurs…
I remember when only couple of years ago they ran some junk piece about Dracula in the Medieval Age Transylvania and the author kept talking about Romania in the Medieval Age – which in fact didn’t even exist until late 19th century, let alone that Transylvania was part of Kingdom of Hungary/Austro-Hungarian Monarchy until the end of WWI…

As someone with relevant EU roots I was first baffled by such gross errors, unscrupulous rewriting of European history then I noticed it was written by someone from Bukarest, Romania and it became even more ridiculous: it’s one thing that apparently Ceausescu’s alternative history is still alive but how on Earth did it make to the front pages of AP???

It DID speak volumes about the sheer level of amateurism, the complete lack of the even most basic editorial standards, let alone journalistic integrity and I never visited their site again, always skip every AP link ever since.

If you add it that AP’s head honcho was offered a post by McCain you can sum up AP pretty shortly: crooked, clueless, incompetent, amateur, worthless PoC.”

Michelle (user link) says:

Wow.

This makes me really sad. I used to scour the AP every day looking for stuff to put on our magazine’s website, and the entertainment stuff devolved over time. I think it was around the time that they wrote Britney Spears’ obit in advance, all of it went downhill from there. It became salacious and ridiculous drivel.

I get the push for pithier content, but Ebert should lobby with other AP contributors about the limit on think pieces. Or perhaps these writers can just take their work somewhere that it will be valued…

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