While We're Making Suggestions To The AP, How About Not Disappearing The News?

from the join-the-21st-century dept

In the wake of the ridiculous dustup between bloggers and the AP, where the AP threatened bloggers who help promote AP articles, some are starting to point out that the AP's problem goes well beyond a seriously distorted view of copyright law. The reason this came up at all was because the AP's business model is pretty screwed up in a web world. This was clear from the fact that the more involved the AP gets online the more it ends up competing with all its member newspapers. Almost every action it takes seems to help the AP's business model, while hurting its members. With the latest skirmish, the AP is ensuring that those partner sites get fewer links in and less traffic. Back when the AP signed a deal with Google News, we pointed out that its member newspapers should be pissed off. Basically, the AP and Google had worked out a deal to keep traffic away from the member papers. That's no way to survive. Eventually, if this keeps up, those members freak out and stop supporting the AP.

That leads to great suggestions from Danny Sullivan on how it's time for the AP to totally rethink its business model, recognizing what the web does for its business:
Well, wake up call. You need a new model. Really. Or you're going to die.

The AP should have a news portal. You should take in content from your members, put it up in an easy-to-find way and generate the ad dollars to be redistributed back to your members. Like do it now, before since the entire licensing thing ain't going to live that long.
It's worth reading the whole thing, as it's right on point. However, there is one additional thing that's worth mentioning: the AP really needs to learn to keep its news online. Back when I would link to AP articles, one of the most annoying things was that they would disappear after a couple weeks. We used to get complaints all the time from readers who would find an older post and the underlying AP article would be gone. I had thought that maybe its deal with Google would change this, and started pointing to the Google versions of AP articles... but, nope, those disappeared after a few weeks as well.

In the narrowminded world of an AP exec, they probably think this leads to more licensing revenue, since it will make people search out and license the article after it can't be found any more. Nope. It just makes people pissed off. Many newspapers have realized that there's tremendous value found in freeing up the archives, and monetizing that long tail of traffic via advertisements. That's a lot more effective than pissing off large groups of folks (including the people who promote your articles) and hoping it leads to a little more licensing revenue. So, while I agree with Danny's recommendations for the AP to join the internet era, I'd also add a recommendation that it open up its archives and recognize that URLs should be permanent rather than fleeting.

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  1. identicon
    Shohat, 24 Jun 2008 @ 11:20pm

    Ahem

    AP have a real product.
    Not everything should/can be ad-supported.

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