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Monday, October 20, 2008

Is the Associated Press becoming an unaffordable luxury?

One hundred and sixty-two years ago, a bunch of US newspapers banded together to create a wire service, called The Associated Press, which would provide breaking news and instant headlines to the group, for a fee. It worked outstandingly well, and has been an integral feature -- an inner cog -- of American journalism ever since.

However, it seems that the cog might have fallen out of synch with the machine. The Media section in today's New York Times features a startling story by Richard Pérez-Peña, headed:
Some Papers in Financial Trouble Are Leaving the A.P. to Cut Costs

The latest defector is the Columbus Dispatch, which says it can no longer afford the $800,000 annual fee. Last week one of the country's largest chains, the Tribune company, announced it would drop out, saying that in an era where advertising revenue is dropping by 25%, it is forced to cut costs.

Other factors could be that the AP is competing with online editions of newspapers on the internet, or that the AP has moved away from its traditional role of providing breaking news into featuring oped-type discussions, which have been the province of the newspapers up until now.

It is yet to be seen whether this rebellion will extend to the thousands of foreign papers which also use the service.

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