What’s the future of wire services in the digital age?

    by Mark Glaser
    June 30, 2008

    With all the fuss lately around the Associated Press and its legal tussle with Drudge Retort over lifted quotes, there’s been a renewed focus on the future of the AP and its role as a newspaper cooperative. The Wall Street Journal noted that newspapers were becoming disgruntled by the high cost of being an AP member and that the AP wasn’t providing enough return for that cost. One problem is that AP is putting more efforts into courting digital business and isn’t giving enough back to the papers who back it. So more generally, do you think the AP will have role to play in the digital age? How do you think that role will change and evolve? Will people need a wire service for information or will newspapers and other media outlets be able to set up their own content-sharing networks like the newspapers in Ohio have done? Share your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll run the best ones in a future Your Take Roundup.

    Tagged: comments digital journalist journalism

    2 responses to “What’s the future of wire services in the digital age?”

    1. Digidave says:

      Take my comments with a grain of salt – because I feel like I have a stake in what I’m saying.

      I think the AP needs to either vastly reorganize itself or its days are numbered. What is the value added?

      As a self-sustained news business the AP has lots of added value – but for the associated members of the press, the value added is diminishing.

      At its best I see Spot.Us working as a local AP where freelancers are paid by the public to produce content that is then republished by local news organizations. In return the news organizations must give back in some small way to keep the marketplace open and fair.

      The only way this works is if the content produces some value to the news organizations that reprint it.

      The fact that the AP’s big issue was legal goes right to the point: They were trying to claim copyrights – because that’s the only power they have left: “This is our content and it’s of high value.”

      But scoops have the half-life of a link. And it’s absurd to ask people to pay in order to use a few words and link to your content. The only thing you can do is give it away for free.

      But AP doesn’t give it away for free – it charges newspapers a fee. And that fee isn’t reimbursed in online ad sales – because nobody goes to their local newspaper to get national news.

      I can see the value of AP content for print newspapers. But it’s only a matter of time before the online and print marketing revenue lines cross. When that happens – the AP will crash.

    2. Shafqat says:

      I agree with DigiDave. The economics of news points pretty strongly to an era where the actual content will be free. AP’s distribution methods are archaic, and I see a new digital AP competitior emerging at some point soon. Doing what the AP does for print, but focusing purely online and distributing for free, and making revenue on related services/ads etc. There’s no reason the AP can’t do this, but they will have to embrace the new “economics of free” first.

      All the Worlds Credible News

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