Saturday, August 30, 2008

Another Newspaper Wakes Up and Ditches the AP Cartel

'Star Tribune' Latest Paper Planning to Drop AP
By Joe Strupp ∙ Editor & Publisher ∙ August 27

The Star Tribune of Minneapolis has become the latest, and so far the largest, daily newspaper to inform the Associated Press that it plans to drop the service in two years.

MinnPost.com reports that the paper informed AP that it will no longer use the service as of the fall of 2010. AP requires that member newspapers give two years' notice before dropping the service.

"It’s hard to imagine: the Star Tribune without the Associated Press. But that’s what could happen in 2010; the region’s biggest news source recently sent the nation’s most prominent wire service the required two years' cancellation notice," MinnPost.com's David Brauer reported, adding "If a split comes to pass, Strib readers will notice changes from the biggest international headlines to the smallest sports agate type. Just this morning, I counted at least 18 AP stories or photos in the Strib’s news sections; a wire-service credit was attached nearly all the national sports news and briefs, plus a half-dozen business and Variety items."

Star Tribune Managing Editor Rene Sanchez told the Web site that "we have the utmost respect for AP; this is not a hostile gesture by any means ... It’s the beginning of an assessment of our business model, not the end.”

The Star Tribune joins a string of other daily papers who have either given notice or revealed plans to cut the service in recent months. Those include The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash.; The Post Register of Idaho Falls; The Bakersfield Californian; and The Yakima Herald-Republic and Wenatchee World, both in Washington.

The recent decisions to drop AP service follow a planned AP rate structure change, which was announced in 2007 and takes effect in 2009. The rate change has already prompted complaints from numerous newspapers, including two groups of editors who wrote angry letters to AP to complain in late 2007 and early 2008.

One group included editors from Ohio, while the other spanned The Boston Globe, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Star Tribune's own editor, Nancy Barnes.

Under current AP policy, each newspaper buys a package of general news created by AP based on that paper's location and circulation. The package usually includes breaking news, sports, business, and other national, international, and regional news relevant to the client's market, including its state AP wire.

Under the new structure, AP member newspapers will receive all breaking news worldwide (including items from other state wires), as well as breaking sports, business, and entertainment stories. In addition, a package of premium content — made up of five types of non-breaking stories including sports, entertainment, business, lifestyle and analysis — will be available at an additional cost.

When the new structure was announced in 2007, AP promised a combined savings of $5.6 million across newspaper member budgets, which increased to $14 million — and, finally, $21 million just days before the April annual AP meeting.

AP officials said member newspapers would begin to find out in July what their exact fees would be for 2009, which prompted several of the recent decisions — and could result in other newspapers announcing their cuts of the service before the end of the year.

[Thanks to WRH for the link. –dt]

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