Associated Press: Tech Media Snaps Back

April 7, 2009

I enjoyed Larry Dignan’s “AP Eyes News Aggregators; Risks Exposing Its Lack of Value Add” here. The article made a good point: “Be careful what you wish for AP.” I don’t think the Associated Press thinks too much about folks who write Web logs. I agree with Mr. Dignan’s assertion that the AP may not deliver the value add that its owners perceive it does. The examples of the non news that the AP distributes tickled my funny bone. But I know the AP senior managers know quite well the content that flows to its owners and licensees.

What Mr. Dignan did not point out (and to be fair most of the articles I scanned did not point out either) is this item. The high value part of the AP is its coverage of state capitals. Here in the Bluegrass State, the AP files stories about the state government’s activities. Multiply this by 50, and you have the real money maker for the Associated Press. The bulk of the info flowing “down the wire” is recycled information. Prior to the advent, companies as diverse as Halliburton’s Nuclear Utility Services to the Bureau of National Affairs recycled government information and packaged it for resale. The revenue streams were solid because who wanted the hassle of aggregating memos from the Department of Energy or the latest from the Railway Retirement Board. The AP’s money maker is its coverage of the state capital scene. Individual papers have long relied on the AP’s coverage of state news because it was cheaper than putting expensive staff in a state bureau.

My view is that this hassle could be resolved pretty quickly if one of the younger, more energetic readers of this Web log would do a mash up of the state and major city information, update it in near real time, and slap Google AdSense on the service. Deprived of its advantage in this information channel, the AP would be put on notice that reasonable behavior is highly desirable.

If the coding is not comfy for some former journalists, why not form an informal group via a social network and cover the state news via a pool. The bylined stories would open doors for freelance jobs and maybe come political strategy / analysis work. I might even look at a state tech news feed so I could keep track of what Kentucky spends for technology services provided by Unisys.

Either approach sends a much clearer message about the power of the “digital Gutenberg” than the interesting but anecdotal chatter about a service firm dependent on the dead tree crowd for survival. But I am an addled goose. What do I know? Nothing. Just my opinion. Honk.

Stephen Arnold, April 7, 2009


2 Responses to “Associated Press: Tech Media Snaps Back”

  1. Answer Maven on April 7th, 2009 5:33 pm

    You might be interested that KYGOV is on Twitter and I find this a very effective means of knowing more than I ever wanted to know about my state government’s activities. The cool thing is with this twitter feed I do know more about what is going on the bad thing is its fed to me by the state. There is still a need for that third party view of government affairs.

  2. Stephen E. Arnold on April 7th, 2009 7:02 pm

    Answer Maven,

    Thanks. Keep posting and you will receive a goose feather for your Derby bonnet.

    Stephen Arnold, April 8, 2009

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