Chilling words for the AP
Josehua Benton at the Nieman Journalism Lab blog has an update on the news-sharing experiment between eight of Ohio's largest newspapers. It's an extended interview with Ron Royhab, executive editor of the Toledo Blade, and Royhab has some chilling words for the AP:
And so we are at a point where we believe we don’t need the Associated Press Ohio Wire, because it’s covered.
Royhab's conversation with Benton also provides a bit more insight into how to execs at AP, to which the Blade pays $550,000 a year, po'd the top editors at the Ohio Eight.
And they were very hostile toward us. Matter of fact, Tom Brettingen, who is the senior vice president, said, “You know, the newspaper industry only pays 30 percent of the income of the Associated Press, and other 70 percent subsidise your 30 percent. And they dismissed all of our concerns out of hand.
Not exactly the most surprising news, but revealing nonetheless.
Paul Colford, AP's PR director, responds with the standard script -- that AP does not sell the state wires to online or commercial source, that most of what it is selling to online is produced by AP reporters nationally and internationally, etc.
But the reality is still that the state wires have been AP's cash cow, and they are hurting. In South Carolina, for instance, the AP office - no longer a bureau - is unstaffed many more hours, including much of the weekend, and because of my former AP life, I've gotten an earful on that from editors I talk with around the state. And the output of staff-generated copy is thinning.
The Ohio experiment isn't perfect. This comment is on the Nieman post:
It’s a good idea, though disappointing that the Ohio 8 have not allowed smaller papers into the group.
But as the writer notes, his 9,000-circulation daily dropped AP about three weeks ago and have not received a single call about it…we are obtaining agate from PA Sportsticker.