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AP eyes news aggregators; Risks exposing its lack of value add

So the Associated Press is mad and isn't going to take it anymore. It's eyeing news aggregators who are stealing a few paragraphs and failing to link to it as an authoritative source.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

So the Associated Press is mad and isn't going to take it anymore. It's eyeing news aggregators who are stealing a few paragraphs and failing to link to it as an authoritative source. 

Be careful what you wish for AP. Bloggers and news aggregators are a smart bunch and if AP isn't careful the whole world will soon know about its dirty little secret: Much of it is rehash from statements of some sort. 

I'm not going to sweat AP's search for rules of engagement for one simple reason (Techmeme, AP statement): I link to the real source material, which more often than not is a press release. On any given day you can easily bypass AP. And if the AP wants to find a better subscriber business model it needs to adhere to two words: Add value. Is AP trying to protect its "industry's content" or PR Newswire's?

Oh sure, AP has a lot of great reportage. But I'd argue it's not enough to pay for. 

Don't believe me. Let's take a look at your average business day. 

1. Just a few minutes ago. AP reported that big cuts are seen for the military's F-22 program. Defense Secretary Gates Robert Gates talked about defense cuts and using money more wisely.

DefenseLink's transcript of Gates speech could have told you that and a lot more. Gates said:

We will end production of the F-22 fighter at 187 – representing 183 planes plus four recommended for inclusion in the FY 2009 supplemental.

What entity gets the link? AP or the real source? Perhaps it's the guy in the audience Twittering Gates' song and dance.

2. Ford completes tender offer. Ford completes deal to cut debt and shares surge, says AP. 

That story is just so 9 a.m. Here's Ford's statement. AP did get you a stock quote, but you could accomplish that on your own. 

3. Citigroup made Mike Corbat's CEO title official. Here's AP's story vs. the Citigroup statement. Now a feature on what Corbat will do with Citgroup's bad bank may have been fun for AP to tackle. Maybe tomorrow. 

4. Motorola plans on taking $229 million in charges, AP reports. 

You could get that same information from the SEC filing

5. Blockbuster may not be a going concern anymore, AP notes. 

That's another SEC filing

I could find these examples all day. In fact, I do for a living. This AP thing wouldn't be such a big deal if the news gathering group actually linked to its source material. But it doesn't. Instead it pretends that it has unearthed some regulatory filing---as if you have to go to the halls of the SEC and go through bins of documents these days. 

AP isn't alone. Few journalist types link to their source material. In the future showing your work may be considered value add. I consider linking to source material worth the effort since a reader may not give a rat's ass about your take and wants the information direct from the source. 

The bright side: AP's mission to bust some copyright chops may just accelerate what's happening anyway: We're all reporters. And once folks figure out they can damn near replicate most of the AP just by finding source material things are going to get ugly quickly. For more reading, check out Danny Sullivan's related take on the Google-AP flap.

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