Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

media. music. feminism. food. city-dwelling. story-telling. and other things.

AP Rebellion!

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Wow. NYTimes reports that The Columbus Dispatch—the Ohio state capitol’s major daily—announced last week that it would drop its Associated Press service. The Tribune Company had announced the same thing the day before.

The papers, contractually required by AP to give 2 years notice of termination of service, still have some time to figure out how to get by without wire stories and photos, so no concrete plans have been made yet. But the NYT article hints at some interesting experiments:

This summer, dissatisfied with the way The A.P. handles local news, eight papers in Ohio formed a cooperative to share articles, and some of those papers say they might drop the wire service. Newspapers in Pennsylvania are exploring a similar arrangement.

I have nothing against AP, but if the AP backlash leads to greater localism in newspapers, I’m all for it. It will be interesting to see, though, how the medium-size papers would end up covering national and international news without a wire service? My co-worker just wondered aloud if perhaps they’ll give up on even more of that coverage, figuring they’ve been beat by CNN, etc. and that’s that. But—as another co-worker pointed out—cutting back on national/international coverage could seriously limit national ad revenue.

[The perverse part of my reaction to all this: Being a newspaper reporter is probably the only job more precarious than being an investment banker right now, but every time I read stories like this I really miss being a daily newspaper reporter. I felt the same way reading this NYMag article about the folding of the New York Sun.

I also just finished reading A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion, which takes place in the fictional Central American country of Boca Grande. This makes me want to expatriate to a fictional Central American country and be a hard-living, tanned, American-newspaper stringer reporting on international affairs from the (wi-fi enabled, of course) patio of the one tourist hotel in town while drinking strong coffee and listening to an old radio playing muffled traditional music in the background, regarding the locals warmly but mostly keeping to myself (save a few love affairs), and eventually returning to the states— when revolution breaks out and gets too dangerous—hardened and wise. But then isn’t that every would-be journalist’s dream?]

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Written by Elizabeth

October 21, 2008 at 11:10 am

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