Thomson Reuters is coming for the Associated Press, with a new U.S. news wire service which is already gaining traction with major publishers. The new service, Reuters America, will initially focus on state and regional reporting, but it could offer more national and international news if the market responds favorably.
"This is being designed and being run in a way that is not one size fits all," said Chris Ahearn, Thomson Reuters' president of media. "It gives (publishers) comfort and flexibility that there are other choices than... some of the legacy providers."
Reuters America said it has already signed up the Tribune Co., which is looking to trim costs amid its ongoing bankruptcy reorganization, and The Chicago Tribune is expected to make frequent use of Reuters America content. However, most Tribune papers retain some affiliation with the AP, and the Los Angeles Times expects to continue its full AP membership.
Part of the reason for the Tribune move appears to be the AP's restrictions on repurposing its content, where Reuters America may offer more flexibility. An AP spokesman stated: "The Tribune newspapers remain valued members of the AP, a cooperative owned by about 1,400 newspapers in the United States. Our members have rights to use our content in various ways. However, there are ancillary uses of AP content that we cannot allow because they wouldn't be fair to other members."
One interesting aspect of the new Reuters America service is the incorporation of content from a number of non-traditional news outlets, including online-only news sources like TheWrap.com and SportsDirect for entertainment and sports, respectively.
Reuters America is also partnering with Examiner.com, which hires freelance bloggers and journalists to write articles optimized for search engine discovery and aggregation, with a deal to share licensing revenue. Currently, Examiner.com's stable of 65,000 contributors produce about 3,000 articles a day -- covering 233 U.S. media markets, focused mostly on local content.
This isn't the first news service to threaten the AP's traditional dominance in wire service reporting. In May, a social network for journalists, Publish2, launched a new online news exchange service that allows publishers to create customized content-sharing networks of varying size, whose members agree to syndicate Web content for each other's use. At launch, the Publish2 News Exchange included newswires created by TechCrunch, Engadget, Politics Daily, Daily Finance, AOL Small Business and the Huffington Post Investigative Fund.
The AP is not standing idly by in the face of new competition. In February, it announced a licensing agreement with Yahoo, which operates a popular news aggregation service -- followed by a similar deal in August with Google, giving the search giant continuing access to AP news content in return for regular fees. This deal allows Google to host AP content in search results for the Web in general, as well as for Google News, which aggregates content from a wide variety of sources.
Earlier rivals appeared in 2009, when five big regional daily newspapers in New York and New Jersey formed a content-sharing club, the Northeast Consortium, while at least 49 daily newspapers joined a national consortium to share sports content.
In 2008, The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun struck a content-sharing deal, while McClatchy Co. said it would share foreign news stories with The Christian Science Monitor. The Politico Web site signed deals to share political news with scores of newspapers, including The Arizona Republic, Des Moines Register, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Philadelphia Inquirer.