News exec: “Life is possible without the AP

David Solomon, vice president for news of The Telegraph of Nashua, N.H., gets an entry in editor Damon Kiesow’s blog, and it’s revealing insight from a newspaper pro about The Associated Press in today’s disintermediated news environment.

We are focused on providing the news our readers cannot get anywhere else, and connecting them to each other for discussion and debate on those issues. The world and nation stories that make up the bulk of the AP report are available to our readers in many other venues in a more timely fashion. By the time we publish a wire story, it has already been updated several times online.

Given the shrinking news hole many of us are experiencing, we are using less and less AP content, and paying more and more for the privilege. The Telegraph recently moved from a four-section to a two-section format, loaded with local news in the front section. As a result, we are now using only the top two or three world/nation stories of the day, along with a package of briefs.

The rest of our AP content on a typical weekday consists of two or three business stories, a small stock listing, coverage of professional sports, lottery results, and some celebrity news. We use more in our Sunday edition, especially in technology, travel and education sections. Our use of AP content, however, hardly justifies the $131,000-a-year cost, especially not when we’ve been losing reporter and editor positions.

Solomon is right, and while some are suggesting that the turning in of 2‑year notices by newspapers is a negotiating tactic for lower rates, I think there’s much more going on. The fundamentals of being a mediator in the flow of news content just aren’t what they used to be, but, of course, I could be wrong.

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