Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The AP

This afternoon, I was reminded why big newsrooms like ours might want to consider ending -- or drastically altering -- our relationship with AP. Our Washington correspondent wrote a story that AP immediately picked up, which began running on the sites of the local TV stations with no attribution or credit.

So we're paying a fair amount of money to gather, write and edit the news. In this case, from a bureau we fund 3,000 miles away. We're also paying quite a bit of money to AP, and then allowing it to take our story and distribute to other sites that use it against us. Within hours of the time it appears in our paper, if not sooner, we're matched by a number of local competitors.

It's the free-rider problem. Many places that pay little or nothing for newsgathering (beyond their AP fees) are nonetheless in the business of news dissemination. Newspaper newsrooms are having their throats cut by sites that don't have to pay for journalists of their own.

There are a variety of solutions to this problem, of course. The MSM needs to get creative and aggressive in implementing a few.

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