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Now that the AP is stealing their online traffic for national news, will member papers protect the local news they need to survive? Inexplicably, probably not. 9/3/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Uncategorized.

Biting the hand that feeds and owns it, the AP signed a contract with Google News giving its original wire stories prominence, while reducing traffic and presumably online ad revenues at AP members’ own sites. One might think this would put the AP in the doghouse with its members, who not only fully fund its operation but also write and contribute the bulk of AP’s stories. Perhaps AP’s Board of Directors, which believe-it-or-not consists almost entirely of AP members, might want to starve it of funding and content, put the destructive beast to sleep, and replace it with a new organization that can be trained to be obedient. Or at the very least, they might want to urge each member to erect a fence to protect their sole remaining marketable assets — original, local content — from value-gutting distribution by the AP.

But, the AP Board of Directors has been culled from the same breed as AP management and, as they say, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Fact is, daily newspapers have been doing this stupid pet trick for years. Each night after their papers “closed,” they have handed-over their content into the waiting paws of AP representatives, who in turn made it available to local broadcasters for airing immediately, before the papers’ own subscribers could fetch the paper from their driveways the next morning. The management guard dogs were always asleep, and no one ever seemed to notice that this might reduce the demand for newspapers. So chances are, newspapers will continue to play fire hydrant to the AP, and will allow the only bone they have left – local news – to be taken-away and sold right out from under them. And if and when they do, they are likely to end their days, not with a bark, but a whimper.


1. Stephen Larson - 9/3/07

I’ve heard the “state wire” is not part of the deal which I guess has the more local news. But in any case, AP members should kill it!

2. Steve Boriss - 9/3/07

Stephen, I’d be surprised if member papers have overtly agreed to limit their potential online revenues to state wire stories. Moreover, I’d say that until we hear anybody on either the AP or member side acknowledge that there is a structural, conflict-of-interest problem between the AP and its members, any protections the members might get that seem built into these arrangements will be a lucky accident, and there’s little reason to believe they will last.

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