Following announcements by several other newspaper publishers reaching new content-sharing agreements, the Northeast Consortium represents another threat to the Associated Press. Some AP members have already given withdrawal notice, citing the high costs associated with content from the news service, as well as membership fees.
The latest iteration of the new content-sharing model brings together The Record of Hackensack, New Jersey, The Star-Ledger of Newark, the Times Union of Albany, the Buffalo News, and New York Daily News, which apparently organized the consortium.
According to the papers, the Northeast Consortium "will enhance each publication's coverage in the region by exchanging articles, photographs and graphics." But the club would probably be better described as a cost-cutting measure, given the dire circumstances of many of America's daily newspapers.
Although the announcement made no mention of layoffs, a content-sharing agreement would allow the newspapers to trim editorial staff in overlapping content areas.
Several of the newspapers involved in the new consortium have cut their workforces significantly over the last couple years, most notably the Star-Ledger. Last year, its publisher threatened to close the paper unless unions made concessions allowing dozens of layoffs. The agreement brings it together with longtime rival The Record; the former competitors will pool resources for local news reporting.
The AP has endured newspaper criticism about fees for the past year.
In late October, the beleaguered Tribune Co. said it will drop its AP membership after the required two-year notice period. The Columbus Dispatch, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, and several other regional newspapers have already canceled their AP memberships.
The AP desertions coincided with an increase in new content-sharing agreements. In December, The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun struck a deal to share articles and photos beginning in January. The move allows both to expand their coverage, which focuses on Maryland, northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Also in December, McClatchy Co. said it would share foreign news stories with The Christian Science Monitor. A month before, CNN pitched newspapers on CNN Wire, a low-cost alternative to the AP. Eight Ohio newspapers also formed their own news-sharing service, and Pennsylvania papers are considering a similar move.