Monday, September 08, 2008

AP talking points

Good to see some sunshine come inside the AP PR fortress, even if it was involuntarily.

I missed these on the first go-round. About a week ago AP's corporate "communications" office put out some talking points for the bureau chiefs and other execs to use after Ron Fournier got a bit roasted in Politico.

Politico's Michael Calderone got hold of them and published the entire memo. You can read it for yourself.

It's just so nice to see what was once a premier news organization having to resort to the spin cycle.

The memo by AP flack Ellen Hale also tackles some of the upset members have shown lately at AP's selling its wares to online operations like Google and Yahoo -- and has sent some of those members heading for the door.

Some of the same blogs now are also picking up the drumbeat of dissatisfaction with AP that some members have been voicing with the roll-out of Member choice, encouraging readers to write letters against AP in general. In doing so they grossly misrepresent AP in many areas, including how much AP content is contributed by members. For the record, member content comprises less than two percent of AP national and international content -- the slice that is found on Yahoo, Google and other portals.

This small fraction usually involved a scoop which is credited to the member paper. On the AP State Wire, which is not distributed beyond members, about 45 percent of stories come from members.
The state wire numbers sound about right, but do gloss over the fact that while, yes, strictly speaking state wire stories stay on the state wire, if they are promoted to the national wire, all bets are off. That's not going to be a huge percentage, but it does shade it a little.

The 2 percent figure also is a little shady, because there are hundreds of thousands of words on the wire each day, most of which don't get used by your average paper.

It would be interesting to study the stories given the most use in, say, 10-20 representative papers at all circulation levels around the country and see what percentage of those actually are member-generated.

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