Friday, August 01, 2008

AP's problems draw other attention

Alan Mutter at Newsosaur takes a look at the staff/member story ratio at the AP and seems surprised to find that on the state wires, about two-thirds of the copy comes from member newspapers (maybe as low as half in some cases).

No surprise there. That's pretty much the way it's always been. As I've written before, APs model has been under stress since the 1980s when PM papers died and little courthouse radio stations largely abandoned their newsrooms.

I find it amazing that newspeople think AP "steals" their news -- it was always a deal with the devil that the papers that employed them made with the wire service: You get our news if you provide us low-cost coverage elsewhere around the state and world. If AP had had to staff all those stories that it and is members gladly carried over the years, no one could have afforded the bill.

Of course, that worked when AP controlled the means of distribution. But with that gone and those previously shared stories now instantaneously available to anyone online, much of the underpinning of that model goes away. As I wrote recently, AP is likely to dissolve its state bureaus as we now know them -- it doesn't need the desk operations in all 50 states with its editing hubs -- and turn most of the remaining staff into correspondents spread more around the states. On balance, that probably is a good thing.



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