Sunday, October 19, 2008

AP - the Media Overlord

Associated Press photo

The Columbus Dispatch announced today that its service cancellation with the Associated Press, effective Jan, 17, 2011. As a result of AP’s service with its current rates, the company decided to to maintain their local reporting staff instead. In addition, Dispatch requested AP to cease transmissions generated by Dispatch.

The fragile state of the newspaper business has been evident, with the industry falling by almost 40 percent, according to Goldman Sach's analyst Peter Appert. With newspapers constantly trying to minimalize costs and maximize profit via their websites' news outlets, why doesn't the AP lower their rates to keep their customers?

In Rick Edmond's article, "What Would Happen if Newspapers Divorce AP," AP is obstinate about not cutting rates and acquiescing to its customers, even when it's becoming more and more advertising-oriented and maintains its lucrative media giant status as a major news and photo owner and distributor.

AP is already reaping profits from newspaper staff cuts. According to AP executive editor, Kathleen Carroll,
"Good mid-sized papers are being forced to make a lot of strategic decisions
about what only they can do and should continue to do." The local, local, local
answer makes sense, but quasi-national health and science specialists often end
up on the list of good things a regional can no longer afford.

Thinking back to our discussions on Chomsky's first filter on size ownership and profit-orientation, is the media going to be monotonous as they rely on recycled and redistributed articles from AP? Does an editor have to choose between a press staff and profits?

1 comment:

M. Dery said...

Interesting, out-of-the-box post, scrutinizing an underreported story. Would have liked to have heard a little bit about the history of the wire services (McChesney talks about this) and their historical role in helping big media crush little, local media, especially politically marginalized voices, neither of which could afford the wire services. Also, you might have noted that filling the news hole with wire-service copy when you can no longer afford reporters to cover local stories isn't a recently arrived strategy. The Gannett chain has been doing that for years, if not decades. A key dynamic here, which your last block quote touches on, is so-called "hyperlocalism"---the idea that local papers can carve out a niche for themselves, in a crowded media landscape that favors online media, by covering local stuff, from smalltown politics to kids' soccer games. Fine and well, but can we afford to rely entirely on the wire services for our national and international coverage at the very moment that America is projecting its economic and military might around the world? Geopolitical ignorance and the War on Terror: Sounds like a combustible mix, to me.