Is AP’s crackdown on bloggers actually a crackdown against defections of its own members? 6/16/08Posted by Steve Boriss in AP.
The blogosphere is in full boil about one of its own being warned by the AP that it must even more sharply limit the number of AP-written words it uses in its citations of AP articles. One of the biggest blogs, TechCrunch, is even calling for a boycott of AP story citations.
But, while the bloggers understandably think it’s all about them, I have a hunch it isn’t. Rather, it is a shot across the bow of AP’s own members that they had better not drop their costly memberships in favor of citing AP articles instead.
Increasingly, AP newspapers are realizing that the Internet has turned their membership into a rotten deal. The not-for-profit AP takes their money and their stories, uses their money to pay for its own staff to write additional stories, then shares everything with all other members, so that the papers are left with no exclusive content on the big stories of the day. This wasn’t a problem before the Internet, when readers could only access these stories from their local papers.
So a newspaper trying to cut its costs could theoretically drop its AP membership, keep its exclusive content to itself, and start each big story “According to the AP,” lifting as many words as possible then paraphrasing the rest. By cracking down now to limit the number of lifted words, the AP is making the price for defecting members higher. Whether this is a crackpot theory or not, one thing is clear — now that the old model for the relationship between the AP and its members might be hurting members more than helping them, a crackup seems inevitable. (H/T: Jim Harper)