The Associated Press Competing With Its Own Member Papers

from the future-of-news dept

This should be the last post related to last week's "Future of News" workshop. One of the panelists at the workshop was Steve Borliss, who has a new piece up arguing that the Associated Press helped turn the news business into a cartel in the 20th century. He suggests that by limiting access to the AP network, incumbent papers could prevent potential rivals from competing effectively, because no local paper could hope to replicate the AP's national and international news-gathering resources. But now, as we noted last week, the Internet is upending this cozy relationship. For one thing, people can now easily get newspapers from multiple geographic areas, and they're beginning to notice that every newspaper seems to be running a lot of the same AP stories, forcing papers to develop more original content if they want to stand out from the crowd. But more importantly, the AP itself is becoming a competitor to the newspapers. For example, after newspapers complained about Google News sending them traffic, Google signed a deal with the AP allowing it to host AP articles directly, cutting the papers out of the transaction entirely. We wondered at the time if newspapers would be upset about the loss of traffic from Google News, and now this seems to be happening, with a group of Ohio papers forming their own Ohio-centric wire service in competition with the AP. As the Internet causes media outlets to increasingly compete with one another across geographic boundaries, expect to see a lot more cases like this, where former partners become competitors.

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