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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  • identicon
    Mike, 2 Dec 2008 @ 7:45am

    Word count?

    And how many words are in THIS post?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2008 @ 7:52am

      Re: Word count?

      359 words, which I guess makes your point.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2008 @ 8:42am

        All Mike's Articles for December Word Counts

        AP Gets It Wrong Again: Wants To Restrict Certain Reports To 500 Words-359
        UK Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Journalist Police Wiretapped-169
        Oh No, Now The Rapid Internet Growth Is Going To Use Up All Our Electricity-247
        Singapore Fines The WSJ For Editorials It Considered Contempt Of Court-314
        Belgian Politician Caught Drunk In NYC Bar; Blames Bloggers-288
        What's Wrong With Actually Turning Electronics Off?-163
        Court Says Yahoo And Google Aren't Liable For Gambling Ads-284
        Small Business Strategies For The New Year-404
        Google As Benevolent Dictator: The Gatekeeper And The Data Collector-427
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        Thanks To The Lori Drew Case, I Can Make Each Of You A Criminal-466
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        Guns N' Roses' Lawyer Says Dr. Pepper Giveaway Was Fraud... Even Though Axl Rose Liked It-418
        Rockstar To Use SecuROM DRM On Grand Theft Auto-162

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John, 2 Dec 2008 @ 7:50am

    CNN Wire Service

    Considering CNN's ability to use iReporters, this may be the way for their upcoming wire service to really compete. Of course, it doesn't hurt that CNN's service is reportedly cheaper than AP.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Erv Server, 2 Dec 2008 @ 8:58am


    The UP is a sick horse that humanely needs to be put down

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2008 @ 10:39am


    I got A.D.D. no stories more than 500 words pls

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2008 @ 11:31am


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    kamm, 2 Dec 2008 @ 12:15pm

    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."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michelle, 3 Dec 2008 @ 12:19pm


    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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