Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Great AP Flap

Updates at unassociated press. Backstory here; note the bottom line is still pay-to-play. My own update: Look, it's AP's content. If they don't wanna play by the rules previously established (by which bloggers quoted and sent readers to them for the whole story), go find sources that will and leave them with their dead-tree and broadcast fossils.

Unless you have been exploring Deepest Nomediastan, you have by now heard of AP's plan to charge bloggers for quotes.

How can they get away with it? Blame Sun Myung Moon. Or better yet, the times. AP once had a counterweight, a foil: United Press International (at the end-user end, purple ink on yellow paper as opposed to AP's black-on-white, but I digress). AP was -- and I think still is -- a consortium of newspapers: an entity is an AP member rather than a customer and if you are boycotting the Associated Press but using items from some newspaper's site, better check the fine print. Contrarily, UPI was a wire service that sold copy to anyone with the price to play: smaller and scrappier than AP and usually more aggressive. Also gone now: when times got hard for the fishwrap media, the outfits that served them went to the wall first. Since AP was more tightly integrated with the papers it served, it lived.

So there's no real alternative to AP, right? Only game in town, hey? OMG!

Unlax, Robinson.

Town's a bit bigger these days. Ever hear of Reuters? (And you only thought the NYT was blood-pressure-raising!) Agence France-Presse? (ditto) ITAR-TASS? Sadly, the International Herald-Tribune is now owned by the NYT, but their content not used by (or sourced from) AP might be usable and useful.

Plus there are other blogs, content from local media (TV and radio in addition to papers) and -- if you're near the scene -- the simple expedient of getting out there yourself, with or without a camera and a palmtop/notebook/audio recorder, whatever works for you.

AP? Fried dodo with a side of passenger pigeon again? Hmpf. I'll pass.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I thought I was the last person alive to remember the old yellow and purple UPI sheets.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Canadian Press.

Roberta X said...

Canadian Press? These guys? Sure, why not? The more, the merrier!

"The 'net intreprets censorship as damage and routes around it."

Drang said...

I thought AP had backed off from the plan to charge or sue bloggers for exceeding "fair use." Did they reverse their reversal?

Rats, now I have to go and check several days worth of RSS feeds before I go to bed... Damned early morning shifts...

Mike Kole said...

I'm reminded of the first burst of the 'net, and my freelance work for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, whose writers turned up their noses at the net saying, "we're The Guild, and we're above that electronic child's play. We're in the print copy ONLY".

Then us freelanceres started commanding a lot of coin, because the online version was essentially duplicating the efforts of the print edition. The writers were noticing that some freelancers were getting popular. Then they flopped. "We're The Guild! You can't have those children freelancers writing copy!"

I suspect the AP will learn the error of its ways in a couple of years, when it begins to notice that everything except AP stories are quoted in blogs.