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.

Filed Under: archives, disappearing, news
Companies: associated press

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  1. identicon
    John Wilson, 25 Jun 2008 @ 8:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Ahem

    You need to watch your generalizations there.

    And with all due respect, except for IT news and US politics, user/blogger generated news/coverage, is simply non-existent.

    The reality is that what you're saying simply isn't true. There are lots of small "news" blogs out there which service smaller, rural areas that are poorly served, if served at all, traditional media. These people do generate news coverage, even if you aren't particularly interested in it.

    And yeah, there are lots of US politics sites, there are also sites dealing with political events in other nations as well. (Repeat after me, the United States is not planet Earth!)

    People do not generate coverage. They quote it, and everyone link to each other, but it's nothing but echo chamber for Reuters, AP and others.

    As I noted above people do generate coverage. To say otherwise is arrogance of the highest order.

    Because you're not interested enough to find it or to want to read it doesn't change that fact.

    As you bring up Reuters I find it more than interesting that Reuters seems to have a more tolerant view of bloggers linking to their stuff than AP does. In your view, then, AP has a better model than Reuters does. I'd challenge that.

    Analysis and dialogue are not part of the news.

    Do tell that to the editorial boards of newspapers, the opinion writers, the editorial cartoonists, guest columnists and others who do nothing but provide analysis and commentary.

    As for the dialog, tell that to the people who fill the letters to the editor sections of newspapers.

    There is no Web2.0 news model.

    That's not the point, though I'd challenge that too.

    Looked at from a Web 2.0 perspective (oh, how I've come to hate that term) newspapers are what they always were a portal which serves up news, analysis, commentary and interactivity.

    I think there's a need to remind you of what AP really is. It's a collective which exists simply to pool stories from it's owners (radio, television, newspapers) and to distribute them to the owners. That it employs staff of it's own is more a function of that than of anything else.

    All this is, of course, done for a fee which pays for the service it's owners want. Should the newspapers, AP's owners after all, decide they don't want this AP is dead.

    Back to Reuters for a moment it's also of some interest that they don't age stories out of existence anywhere near as quickly as AP seems to.

    Back to the Web 2.0 stuff. As I noted newspapers are a print portal to the news, nothing more and nothing less. They are ad supported and always have been.

    That said I'm at a complete loss to explain your hostility to the idea that a similar model for the web is either dangerous or unneeded.

    You appear to argue that the model that works in the print world for newspapers and AP either can't or won't work on the Web (any version you care to mention).

    If it works for print or broadcast it can work on the Web.

    AP sticking to it's current idea of its model along with its rather strange notion of what is and is not fair use is a recipe for extinction no matter how valuable the service may be.

    You're missing the point as badly as AP is. Links mean traffic, traffic means increased readership, increased readership means higher fees for ads and ad placement. Quotations supported by those links means the same thing.

    It works for print and it will for the Web if AP gets off its high horse here and just understands its own business better than it appears to.



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