Tribune Co. cutting out AP

The Associated Press provides a great service to member media outlets as a cooperative, wire news service.

It provides content from around the country and around the world to help newspapers and other news disseminators keep their audiences informed about events that can’t be covered by the local staffs.

However, this service doesn’t come cheap.

And in a time when all forms of media are suffering for advertising dollars, executive and budget-minded folks begin to take a long, hard look at what AP is costing the news organization.

Recently, the Tribune Co., which publishes The Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, decided to perform an experiment.

It is going to go one week without AP content to see how it impacts the finances of the paper and if the content is missed by readers.

The experiment starts Monday.

Of course, if the Tribune Co. decides it no longer needs AP, it can’t just cut the umbilical cord. AP requires a two-year notice before a member paper can drop the membership.

The Tribune Co. has already given its notice, and it will be eligible to cancel its membership on Oct. 15, 2010, according to the report.

This saddens me.

I think the Associated Press provides a very important service, and I hate that the economy is threatening to push it toward the brink of extinction because newspapers and other media outlets can’t afford to pay in and support the work the cooperative organization does.

There are other wire services out there to supplement the work AP does, but none are as respected or filled with such high-caliber reporters as the staff of AP.

I hope AP makes it through this modern-day depression right along with the rest of journalistic world.

If not, it would be a tragedy.

Before I get out my handkerchief, put on my black suit and begin planning AP’s funeral, it should be noted that even The Tribune Co.’s little experiment isn’t totally cutting AP out:

“Some content Tribune Co. papers get from the Associated Press, such as sports statistics, will still be published during the experiment,” the report said. “The company also said that if the AP is the only available source for a report considered vital, it will use that AP coverage. But the company wants to see to what kind of void the absence of AP stories and photos would have.”

Apparently the void would be huge if The Tribune Co. can’t completely excise AP from the folds of its publications, which is a good thing for AP.

I hope AP marches on and all the news outlets who are tempted to get rid of the service, such as The Tribune Co., realize how vital AP is to the world of journalism.

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My name is Todd Vogts. I like the color green, riding my motorcycle, and being with my family and friends. A good book is a perfect companion for me any time, and I'm an author and journalist. Visit my website at www.toddvogts.com and follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/toddvogts.