AP Fires Another Shot In War Against Blogosphere

Making good on a promise to crack down on the unauthorized use of its stories, The Associated Press has announced that it's creating a new registry to tag and track digital articles.

The articles will now contain a beacon that will enable the AP to easily know when another site has reposted stories via an RSS feed or other automated mechanism.

But the beacon won't in itself alert the AP to bloggers who rewrite stories or manually input portions of them into another site -- even though that activity has spurred two well-known disputes: The AP's lawsuit against All Headline News for misappropriating "hot news," and the wire service's demand that the blogger behind the liberal Drudge Retort (a response to the Drudge Report) stop excerpting articles.

The AP's move comes as some industry observers are blaming bloggers for the host of economic woes news organizations are now facing.

It's no secret that newspapers have seen ad revenue plummet in the last decade. Classifieds revenue alone has fallen by around $10 billion -- with much of those dollars migrating to Craigslist and other free listings sites.

But why place responsibility on bloggers for the revenue drop? Craigslist certainly isn't aggregating news articles or even summarizing and linking to them.

Yes, some sites out there appear to repost newspaper articles in their entirety, but it's not clear that those sites are raking in ad dollars that would otherwise go to papers.

And while critics like talking about digital "parasites," there's little evidence that newspapers would be better off -- financially or otherwise -- without the blogosphere.

Sure, some bloggers summarize or excerpt news stories -- but they also include links to newspapers, driving traffic back to them. Plus, many bloggers break new stories, or offer new insights, which mainstream news organizations then draw on in follow-up articles.

While links from bloggers would seem to help newspapers by gaining them more ad eyeballs, some observers have gone so far as to propose new laws banning linking without newspapers' consent.

News organizations are rightly worried about their economic situation. But even if every blogger stopped linking to mainstream news sites tomorrow, the fact remains that advertisers who want to reach local audiences no longer need to rely on newspapers. Newspapers need to figure out how to cope with that fact rather than spend their energy attempting to wall off content.

2 comments about "AP Fires Another Shot In War Against Blogosphere".
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  1. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., July 24, 2009 at 5:57 p.m.

    Clearly this is another case of trying to put the technology "back in the box" once it's out - and we all know that doesn't work. The newspapers have to find somebody to blame - other then their own shortsightedness. My favorite quote after being in the thick of the battle shall remain nameless but the quote is indicative of the industry (Newspaper Executive looking at computer with digital newspaper on the screen) "Well, it will never replace ink on paper..."

  2. Dave Woodall from fiorano associates, July 25, 2009 at 5:36 p.m.

    A couple of thoughts: One - Maybe if the AP quit acting like bloggers and grew a pair they wouldn't be in this mess. Every day I read an AP story quoting some official who, "requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the subject". I mean What the Hell? If a source isn't authorized to speak on the subject, maybe you shouldn't be quoting them! The J-School classes I took taught us that real journalists, writing real news stories (not to mention real editors and publishers), used their sources names in all but the most sensitive situations. Only then can the source's validity be independently verified. Just because some AP reporter tells me his/her source is trustworthy doesn't make it so. For all I know, it's the hostess down at the local Applebees.
    The words coming out of an anonymous source's mouth are simply opinion, heresay, and gossip...just like many blogs.
    Two - If the AP is so hung-up on original reporting, how do they justify having their reporters sit on Twitter and regurgitate, word for word, what the celebrity de jour is tweeting? Recently the AP ran a story about Lance Armstrong tweeting about the birth of his child...not about the actual birth of Armstrong's child, but about the fact that he tweeted about it!!! Don't you think if I gave a damn about Lance Armstrong's tweets I'd be following him? And today, the AP is running yet another story quoting a Sarah Palin tweet. Again, if I cared........
    And what about Michael Jackson's death? Nearly every news organization (on-line and off-line) in the country jumped on TMZ's story. This is the modern reality. The AP needs to figure out how to use it to their advantage or else risk becoming just another luddite organization like the RIAA.
    If the AP has such a huge problem with digital content being re-distributed, maybe it should quit selling information to organizations that make it available for free on-line. Maybe they should instead simply offer it on a subscription basis on its own website....problem solved.

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