Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Editorial: Think Twice about Biting AP Hand That Feeds You

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Editorial: Think Twice about Biting AP Hand That Feeds You

Article excerpt

(Editorial from May print edition) The newspaper industry's talent for self-destruction in recent years never fails to astonish. Handed a virtual monopoly on newsgathering and a head start on online content distribution, newspapers managed to squander both. Racking up huge profit margins and amassing so much cash that Wall Street's biggest complaint was about their supposedly bloated reserves, newspaper companies either sold themselves off looking for even bigger paydays, or ran up huge markers to buy papers whose value they are now writing down.

Having proven so wrong at such critical junctures, many newspapers are now taking another wrong turn. They've decided that one of their most inspired creations, The Associated Press cooperative, is now one of their biggest problems. Newspapers ranging from the Star Tribune in Minneapolis to New York's Daily News have given their two-year notice to withdraw from the cooperative. Newspapers are trying to recreate mini-APs with nearby publishers, or they're flirting with CNN -- which might one day actually detail its thus-far vague AP alternative.

The case against AP turns out to be an assortment of rationalizations that seem to change with each passing month.

Take the cost issue. AP no doubt stumbled in structuring and pricing its original content menus. The more recent Member Choice program increases options on content and delivery. At the same time, AP cut member assessments by $30 million this year, and will reduce them another $30 million to $35 million next year. …

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