Daniels Reflects: Associated Press Accomplished Its Greatest Technological Change under the Watch of Its Outgoing Chairman

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Associated Press accomplished its greatest technological change under the watch of its outgoing chairman

THE FIVE YEARS Frank Daniels Jr. served as chairman of the Associated Press --and the 14 years he served on its board--saw the greatest technological change in the 149-year history of the news cooperative.

AP created a digital photo transmission service, a satellite ad transmission service, an international video news service and, just last fall, an Internet news service.

Yet, when Daniels reflects on his time at the top of AP,, he says something else stands out even in this sea change of technology.

"The most important thing to me was working out all the relationships," Daniels said. "Who the AP sells to and how it sells is always in flux.The AP has to deal with all the different players who want to buy the AP report, and yet at the same time we remain 'wholesalers' as I call it."

Daniels retired from the AP board and its chairmanship at the cooperative's annual meeting held during the recent Newspaper Association of America convention in Chicago. Daniels earlier this year retired as president and publisher of the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer, which was sold to McClatchy Newspapers.

Newhouse Newspapers' Donald Newhouse is the new AP chairman.

In an interview, Daniels said he leaves with enormous respect for the job AP does.

"If you think about it, the AP is the largest news agency in the world, if you separate the news operation from the rest of what Reuters does, and it has done a great job without being overcome by bureaucracy" he said.

That's permitted AP management to be decisive when--as often happens--its technological decisions on hardware like the AP LeafDesk sets a de facto industry standard.

"You know, on technology you can wait and wait and never do a thing" Daniels said."On LeafDesk, the management was decisive--and the industry needed it .... The quality of our analog [wire photo transmission] was not good"

It was a similar case with AdSend, the ad transmission service which had its roots in a casual conversation between Daniels and an executive from the department store chain Dillards. …