Associated Press :: Will it survive and what alternatives are already in the works

UPDATE: Editor & Publisher reports Tribune Co. (9 newspapers) to drop the Associated Press.

This is, as E&P headlines it, a shocker. “Shocker: Tribune Co. Gives Notice To Drop AP”

NEW YORK Tribune Company has given a two-year notice to the Associated Press that its daily newspapers plan to drop the news service, becoming the first major newspaper chain to do so since the recent controversy over new rates began.

Tribune, which owns nine daily papers including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, joins a growing list of newspapers that have sought to end AP contracts, or given notice of that, following plans to introduce a new controversial rate structure in 2009. The notice was given earlier this week.

Two of the largest – and best – newspapers in America are dropping the Associated Press. This makes me even more concerned for the venerable institution.

Also read Rick Edmonds’ Poynter Biz Blog for his story, “What Would Happen if Newspapers Divorce AP.”

To me, that suggests plenty more friction ahead with editors as AP redirects resources to lucrative lines of business and other clients that are doing better than the newspapers that own AP.

Just thinking out loud here…

The Associated Press (AP) is a revered institution with many years of worthy service to journalism and the people for 160 years. (Source)

That said, the AP is experiencing problems much like all other traditional media. A myriad of information sources has diluted the AP’s strong hold on reporting the news. It is this emerging digital media stream of information that threatens the future (even survival) of newspapers and the Associated Press, among others.

Some papers are even dropping AP due to their recent rate hikes. Editor & Publisher reports Idaho Falls Paper Drops AP — Blames New Rates and Four More Newspapers Intend To Drop AP Over Rates

… The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash, which is trying to cut ties without the required two-year notice. (and) … Other dailies that have already given notice to AP are The Bakersfield Californian and The Yakima Herald-Republic and Wenatchee World, both of Washington. They joined The Post Register of Idaho Falls, which informed AP of plans to drop the service last week.

See related stories: Cancellation notices and disagreements weight on AP, Star Tribune submits cancellation notice to AP, and US regionals turn away from AP to focus on local reporting.

The competing news sources are so many, it is impossible to cover them all here. But, some examples show how even the journalists themselves are reaching out and using social media to drive their reporting.

Twitter, for example, has been credited with being a breaking news source. Reports of earthquakes have shown up in Twitter hours before making it to TV. In our recent Journalist Tweet exercise, we found over 4,000 journalists using the service to, among other things, find leads for stories.

Digg and Slashdot, among many other sites, have also proven to be breaking news sources, too. Open source (free) software allow individuals and organizations to create such sites, too. Pligg, for instance, allows you to create a “Digg-like” site. Inexpensive, even free, software platforms allow you to create niche communities, such as our success with and the creation of PROpenMic.

Niche search engines have helped to spread this news. Niche communities are now popping up to share news. and are just two of the many efforts begun to fill these niche citizen journalist desires.

Newspapers continue to launch their own blog communities. The Montgomery Advertiser recently adopted blogs and I experimented with their site this summer.

So, what does this all mean for PR?

Great opportunities. But, even more important, a need for best practice and proper practice.

As all of these networks spring up, we can go in and share news about our interests. But, we must – and I mean MUST – do it in a transparent and honorable manner.


0 thoughts on “Associated Press :: Will it survive and what alternatives are already in the works

  1. JRSchmitt

    The storied decline of newspapers continues. As more people turn to “information snacking” (thanks RaidSchmitt for the phrase), new ways to share the highlights of news will continue to emerge.

    But PR, it’s function to companies and to the public, is more essential than ever. As you correctly state, transparency now joins the list of timliness, credibility and consistency. The advertising side of marketing makes 2 of the 4 challenging, and this is where PR can be the most effective part of the marketing mix.

    For social media, I don’t mind being in the space with clients, but they need to let people know who is writing it – who is “behind the curtain.” While virtual, people still seek authenticity in communications. The question to me is: how does the evolution of “quick conversations” build authentic relationships? Is it consistency? credibility? transparency? or is in the new fun phrase of “engagement.” And how will clients ask us to measure all of this effort? There are not clips to weigh-in and any measurement is still rather effusive.

    As the communication channels evolve, let’s hope for the sake of our clients that PR can as well.


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