Reader: Why pay for AP, if it’s just buried inside?

In a new comment, a reader wrote: “There are a number of papers — both within and outside Gannett — threatening to drop AP. And it is possible to operate without AP. There are other sources for much of the material that AP distributes, especially sports.

“It can be considerably cheaper to buy some copy — columnists, etc. — from self-syndicated freelancers or syndicates than from AP. Things get tougher with politics and breaking national news, especially since Gannett News Service seems to be downsizing and McClatchy is struggling. But at the smaller papers, the emphasis has been shifting away from national news anyway.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s a good idea, but dropping AP would make sense for certainly smallish to mid-sized papers if they are determined to stick with current coverage plans. Why spend a fortune on AP if all the wire stories are buried in an inside section? That’s not the case everywhere, but it is in many Gannett markets.”

Join the debate, in the original post. Or start a new one, in the current Real Time Comments open forum.

14 Responses to “Reader: Why pay for AP, if it’s just buried inside?”

  1. Jim Hopkins Says:

    Where would these smaller Gannett papers think their customers would get national and world news from — if not from the local paper and its website?

  2. Anonymous Says:

    No wire copy? That’s kind of crazy.

    Anyway, AP is changing how it structures content delivery and pricing scales. Does that change the game at all, or is it still “too expensive” for some papers vs. what it really uses?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    “But getting the right kind of copy from the fight kind of person requires a lot of finesse and a lot of work.)”

    And if management needs to drop AP to make its number, you think they will care if it’s more work why???

    Sorry, from first-hand knowledge, any “caring” would be hollow. If they have to make a number, they will do what they have to, especially at the smaller and mid-level sites now focusing on local. Not bitching, it’s just true. It’s the nature of their jobs these days.

    Jim, to answer your question of where leadership thinks readers are going to get nation and world news if they drop AP — they don’t care. And they think readers don’t care anymore either. The point of the smaller papers dropping it is that they are focusing their attention on being the source of local news only, down to chicken dinners. At our paper, we went to using a pre-made nation page sent by GNS every day. It is available for everyone to use. And it is ridiculous. No personalization. No depth. Old news by 6 a.m. Heck, it’s even outdated by the time they post it every day. Just ridiculous.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I love the Nation page. Fonts don’t match anything else in the paper, stuff I read hours or days before elsewhere. It’s like an instant “Remember When…?” feature.

    We use the same weather map all week long, we just change the temperature every day in every city by 2 degrees up or down, via spreadsheet. No one has caught on yet.

    Our biggest revenue growth this year has come from obituaries. Come to find out that most veterans’ families will pay double normal rate to get that little flag icon inserted.

    Our printers have been reconfigured to use 8×10.5 paper instead of 8.5×11, and the color printers only use cyan, magenta and black. The 9.5″ savings represents a 10.2% drop in copy paper tonnage, and killing out yellow saves nearly 15% of our toner cost. It’s just as well, because the thin toilet tissue we’re running through can’t absorb four layers of toner without bleeding anyway.

    Our weeklies run the same police report, same schools report, and same letters to the editor as the daily. No, not necessarily the same week. Sometimes weeks later, when the weekly editor needs additional filler around the ads. This week we ran AUGUST police beat items.

    The other day we kept all of our outside sales reps in to do a phone blitz on our high school sports tab. 30 people were taken off the street to sell $20 business card ads instead of real ads. Why? This week the AD’s kid’s team was featured.

    Now, gentle reader, it’s up to you to determine which of these items are true, which are exaggerations, and which are me forecasting the future. Cheers!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Good point, Jim. Some of our readers are complaining that we’ve got TOO MUCH local news in the paper now. They want to know where all of the national/international news – and the stocks page (yep, that too) – has gone.

    So much for local, local, local.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    If we took all the money we spend on AP …
    1. Divvy some for international news services.
    2. Invest in domestic regional coverage of our own (west coast could be an issue).
    3. Organize and beef up domestic photo coverage in a regional approach (with video).
    4. Consider ESPN partnerships or Sports Network for sports coverage gaps.
    5. Have a budget for purchases of individual domestic stories/features as needed.
    We could birth our own self-reliant news service and resell our service to others as well. There is a for-profit model that can work building a service without the AP bureaucracy and using Gannett editors to oversee regions.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    5:18 AM wrote: “At our paper, we went to using a pre-made nation page sent by GNS every day. It is available for everyone to use.”

    Here’s a good question: A lot of stuff on the GNS nation/world page is AP copy. Would papers be able to run it if they’re not subscribed to AP?

    My guess would be no.

  8. Joe Says:

    I am so old I can remember the old saw about the three times you should get your name in the paper for free: when you’re born, when you’re married and when you die. Obits themselves were gratis as well. Nowadays, one of the most disgusting
    “revenue enhancers” out there is a usurious charge for obits in the first place. The point above about charging double to insert a flag logo for a veteran’s obituary is in fact a double ripoff. I guess the idea of a local paper being a “community bulletin board” is long gone, having morphed into “revenue opportunities.” I have news: it won’t make a lot of difference before too long. Print is entering the end of days.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Forget AP, in Westchester they miss local breaking news stories and ask the public by posting on their website “IF YOU WERE AT THE AMUSEMENT PARK WHEN THE RIDE FAILED, WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU” Sounds like a lame attempt of journalism after missing a big story.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Re: Anonymous 11:20 a.m.:

    The day my former paper started soliciting reader e-mails to help with upcoming features was the day I knew we’d finally jumped the shark.

    One of the advantages of having what at the time was a 175-person newsroom was that staffing at that level was a guarantee that you’d have men and women working their beats 40 hours a week so that they would know where to turn for the kind of info they were now soliciting by e-mail.

    It caused me to look closely at the newsroom, and I came to the realization that probably 25-30 reporters on the staff at that time (this was circa 2000) would have been too green to have even been given a tryout for a job 20 years earlier.

    But youngsters just 2-3 years out of J-school were (and are) much less expensive. Never mind the hidden costs associated with bringing them up to speed and never mind all the missed stories because they don’t know the town.

    And in recent years, the paper has graduated from soliciting e-mails for upcoming features to asking for readers’ help on what would be considered breaking or second-day news.

    Pretty pathetic.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Of course it is pathetic… but where have you been? This has been a trend for the last decade, at least. Now we reap what we has sowed! Ha! Hiring J-School kids at metros (and ignoring more qualified staffers at smaller papers has been the doom of many a metro. Mostly because this “kid wonders” have serious bad attitudes in the newsroom. They know it all. And Joe, obits have been paid for years, also. Now papers even charge for wedding announcements, and anniversaries. Community newspapers are soley to produce revenue with cheap labor.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Anon @ 6:02 a.m.: You guys even DO color page proofs? Wow, that's luxury. B&W strictly at this 100-thou-plus paper.

  13. Kzandra Says:

    Anonymous at 3:29 PM wrote, “But youngsters just 2-3 years out of J-school were (and are) much less expensive.

    Anonymous at 4:16 PM responded, “Hiring J-School kids at metros (and ignoring more qualified staffers at smaller papers has been the doom of many a metro. Mostly because this “kid wonders” have serious bad attitudes in the newsroom.

    The number of journalism jobs is dropping sharply. J-schools are churning out ever more grads.

    Recent grads up to their eyeballs in student loan debt are fresh meat for newspapers desperate to cut costs even further.

    Every year the pool of working journalists will get smaller, cheaper, less experienced, and less in touch with their community.

  14. rknil Says:

    Anyone who thinks any AP savings will be used to “beef up” coverage is absolutely delusional. That money will go straight to profit margin.

    Also, today’s young journalists need desperately to be told how terrible they are. You’re doing them a favor by doing so.

    Save a life — bash a young journalist.

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