AP: Another Faltering Dinosaur

Bob Benz and Mike Phillips in The Online Journalism review slammed a recent decision by the AP to charge extra for content used on newspaper’s websites.

“The Associated Press is planting the seeds of its own demise. AP’s most recent act of self-destruction was its April 18 announcement that it would start charging newspaper and broadcast clients an additional fee for using AP content on their web sites.

This move — sprung on its clients just as they are recognizing the urgent need to reinvent themselves in multi-media, web-driven modes — ignores powerful trends:

All forms of content are migrating – each to its most appropriate medium. Readers and advertisers are following. As news media and other information providers jump into one media platform after another, the Web is emerging as their operational core.

From blogs to open-source journalism to free newspapers, a wave of unpaid information is sweeping paid information off the media beach.

As content loses value, expert editing and customer-driven bundling are becoming the tools for building audience. And audience — not content — is the news industry’s value proposition. Contrast those trends with AP’s recent moves:Belatedly taking note of precipitous readership declines among young people, the AP is shopping around a youth publication prototype called APtitude. Its dominant story form is long narrative accompanied by a photo or two. But young people, as Rupert Murdoch recently pointed out, are digital natives, not digital immigrants. Their primary language is digital. When they do use their secondary language, print, their warmest response is to print formats that are highly visual and that are built with high proportions of short, non-narrative story forms. This ill-conceived venture will add to the costs born by AP clients.