Smart move by AP
AP's announcement that it's promoting Texas news editor Wendy Benjaminson to be assistant bureau chief in Washington coordinating coverage of state-federal relationships and overseeing the stable of regional reporters is a smart move.
First, moving the position up from that of a news editor to assistant chief gives it more heft. Second, and from the details in the announcement and follow-up by Poynter, it also seems the AP is moving a bit farther down the path I suggested the other day of integrating the state reports more into the national report.
The idea of creating more contextualized reporting is critical at this stage. Despite Mike Oresekes' comments that state news reports are the AP's "core franchise," there's the reality of comments I often hear from editors and publishers that were crystalized by Morris executive Steve Yelvington: The only place you see a significant member-generated component is the state wires. They're not available to commercial clients. They're also not generating high-readership content; anybody who's done any market research knows that state news is a dead zone.
(Yelvington was actually pointing out that AP critics who say the news service primarily just repurposes others' work are off the mark, that most of its material is original reporting.)
The "news graph" for many consumers has become dumbbell-shaped: Nodes at the international/ national and at the local/neighborhood levels, with little interest in the state level. At the same time, much of the action that actually affects them is happening at the Statehouse, partly the result of state budget crises but also of the now three-decade federal push to devolve power (and in some cases cost) back to the states.
So anything AP can do to integrate state issues into the national news context is a good thing.