September 30, 2008 10:47 PM
The AP and newspapers
AP chairman Dean Singleton has made some public statements regarding newspapers and the AP that deserve a response.
First, it's not true that newspapers weren't complaining about rates until after AP revealed its plans to cut $21 million from rates for 2009.
Here's what Singleton said.
"I'm at a loss as to what some of the members are complaining about. The AP gave $21 million in fees back to the members and they weren't complaining before they gave it back. Now they're complaining, I guess because it wasn't more."
AP knows that companies were complaining as early as August 2007. Scripps met with the CEO of AP and some of his top executives at that time to discuss its concerns about rates. Enough said.
Then he says "AP has become the whipping boy for an angry bunch of editors who want to blame somebody for their woes.."
That's opinion so he's welcome to it. But I know that we are trying to work constructively with AP at the same time as we are expressing concerns about rates. And AP is working constructively with us. AP is no whipping boy. Editors are being asked to rethink every aspect of their operations. Why wouldn't they examine AP? The truth is that the Internet has enabled a range of competitors for AP, at the same time as it has opened all kinds of new opportunities for AP.
This editor isn't angry nor is he looking for a whipping boy. But we have to examine every expense and ask whether it's worth it in today's economy and today's media environment.
The Rocky Mountain News cancelled the New York Times News Service effective Jan. 1, 2008. I didn't receive one complaint. We can cancel a lame comic strip and get dozens. The reason, I believe, is readers' expectations of local publications are changing. The New York Times provides all its content for free on the Web before any reader can see it in the Rocky Mountain News. And they can see the whole thing, not just our edited version. Clearly that makes sense for the Times and the readers. But it doesn't make sense to continue spending our money on it. The AP faces legitimate questions about its future role, just as local news organizations do.
That's not because editors are angry. It's because the world is changing.