Tribune Company newspapers to drop AP

posted at 10:40 am on October 17, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Editor & Publisher reports that the Tribune Company, which publishes newspapers across the country, has given the required two-year notice of intent to drop the services of the Associated Press.  The announcement comes as a blow to the AP, and not just in subscriptions, which have declined as a result of their new two-tiered rate structure.  Their agreements also give them the right to distribute original reporting from their clients, which means the AP will lose nine significant sources of news:

Tribune Company has given a two-year notice to the Associated Press that its daily newspapers plan to drop the news service, becoming the first major newspaper chain to do so since the recent controversy over new rates began.

Tribune, which owns nine daily papers including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, joins a growing list of newspapers that have sought to end AP contracts, or given notice of that, following plans to introduce a new controversial rate structure in 2009. The notice was given earlier this week. …

Tribune daily papers besids the flagship in Chicago affected include The Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; The Orlando Sentinel; Red Eye of Chicago; the Hartford Courant; The Baltimore Sun; The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa.; and The Daily Press of Newport News, Va.

“I think many editors are concerned about the new financial rate model that AP has rolled out,” Earl Maucker, editor of the Sun Sentinel, said about the notice. “It is a natural approach for us to take a hard look at that. Are there other alternatives out there that would provide the depth and breadth of coverage we need?”

In recent months, other non-Tribune papers have also given the required two-year’s notice to drop AP. Those include: The Star Tribune of Minneapolis, The Bakersfield Californian, The Post Register of Idaho Falls, and The Yakima Herald-Republic and Wenatchee World, both of Washington.

In fairness, the AP’s new rate structure sounds like a reasonable way for smaller newspapers to acquire its services.  Instead of a single flat rate to all customers, the AP restructured their offering into two options.  One would provide only breaking news in the traditional wire-service sense to lower-tier clients at a reduced price.  The premium clients would receive more in-depth pieces and investigative reports.  Smaller newspapers would therefore have a lower cost burden to getting at least some content, while larger newspapers could choose either direction.  It doesn’t sound like a bad idea — if, in fact, it worked as the AP characterized it, as a cost reduction for most clients.

They promised in 2007 that this new rate structure would result in net savings for its clients, but AP didn’t release the figures until July.  Obviously, the rates didn’t produce the results AP described.  Since receiving the new rate schedule, several of their high-profile clients have served notice of intent to cancel, and at least one is challenging the two-year advance notice requirement.  The cost savings appear to be vaporware.

AP has a relative monopoly inside the US on wire service ever since UPI all but died fifteen years ago.  Perhaps they got too arrogant and figured that their clients had nowhere else to go, without considering the option of just giving up the cost of AP entirely in an industry-wide downturn.  Their new rate structure seems to bear some resemblance to New Coke, an unforced disaster in the midst of market dominance.  I suspect that the New AP will go the way of New Coke, and soon enough to keep from losing not just clients but also valuable news resources.

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Excellent. I hope to see the MSM destroyed utterly in the coming years.

lodge on October 17, 2008 at 10:42 AM

The new ministry of news located at Acorn compounds nationally and in Kenya were not available for comment.

Hening on October 17, 2008 at 10:44 AM

Doesn’t the Internet make “news wires” obsolete?

Just days ago they were bragging about their profitability. Just months ago they were threatening bloggers. Just years from now they will be a memory.

Dorvillian on October 17, 2008 at 10:45 AM

Thats a shame,as in Cheap Trick,AP’s crying……!haha

And,Queen’s tune,”Another one bites the dust,hey,hey!

canopfor on October 17, 2008 at 10:46 AM

Or, as Limbaugh calls them, APO (Associated Press for Obama.)

RBMN on October 17, 2008 at 10:47 AM

hmm… AP’s structure sounds like the Net Neutrality argument…

And I L-L-L-LIKED N-N-New C-Coke.

Skywise on October 17, 2008 at 10:49 AM

You get what you pay for, and sometimes not.

Vashta.Nerada on October 17, 2008 at 10:49 AM

January 30, 2009

President Obama skips over the bailout-AP pork line in HR-0987 that was inserted by Barney Frank.

Limerick on October 17, 2008 at 10:50 AM

Another of the dinosaurs trips and falls into the bubbling tarpit. Oh well.

AubieJon on October 17, 2008 at 10:51 AM

SS Newspaper industry: “Boy, we just barely scraped by that iceberg. Should be smooth sailing from here on.”

Vashta.Nerada on October 17, 2008 at 10:53 AM

Excellent. I hope to see the MSM destroyed utterly in the coming years.

lodge on October 17, 2008 at 10:42 AM

You bet. I am sick of the MSM and would love to see those a$$holes on the street with a tin cup.

saiga on October 17, 2008 at 10:53 AM

Live by the bias, die by the bias.

carbon_footprint on October 17, 2008 at 10:53 AM

Geez! Who are the idiots who signed any form of contract requiring 2 years advanced notice to say their not renewing? That’s ridiculous!

I spent fifteen years in radio and never saw anything worse than 90 days. AP definitely got arrogant…

Ace ODale on October 17, 2008 at 10:55 AM

OFF TOPIC BREAKING NEWS ALERT!!!

Obama Proud of Castro Endorsement

From Obama’s Website:

For the record: Fidel Castro, forcibly overthrew a black Cuban head of state (Fulgencio Batista) and replaced his government with one where only nine percent of the ruling Stalinist party is black and where the prison population is 80- 90 percent black. He jailed the longest suffering black political prisoner of modern history (Eusebio Penalver who suffered longer in Castro’s dungeon’s than Nelson Mandela suffered in South Africa’s.) He sentenced other blacks (Dr Elias Biscet, Jorge Antunez) to 20 year sentences essentially for quoting Martin Luther King Jr. in a public square.


Hilarious. Check it out before it’s too late.

Dorvillian on October 17, 2008 at 10:55 AM

Double the fun: Tribune Company is also facing default.

JammieWearingFool on October 17, 2008 at 10:56 AM

Oh, I feel sooooo sorry for them :(

Grafted on October 17, 2008 at 10:58 AM

Hilarious. Check it out before it’s too late.

Dorvillian on October 17, 2008 at 10:55 AM

‘So a major concern for Castro is,

“that the lady with the rifles, the inexperienced ex-governor of Alaska, could became U.S. President. We observe that she knows absolutely nothing about anything.”

AubieJon on October 17, 2008 at 10:59 AM

What goes around comes around.

I am a true believer in karma. And it’s a bitch.

I hope MSNBC is next to swirl the bowl.

tru2tx on October 17, 2008 at 11:00 AM

Fidel Castro Endorses Obama — Again
By Humberto Fontova
The American Thinker

Obama’s website has posted an article making fun of Castro’s endorsement of Obama.

They either haven’t read the article, or they have been hacked by some double secret conservative.

It’s a limited time Friday treat….

Click Here – Scroll Down.

Dorvillian on October 17, 2008 at 11:01 AM

The big problem for the AP is that even the smaller papers are dropping them. Here in Maine, the small papers that cover Bangor, Portland, Augusta and Waterville have entered into a story-sharing agreement so they don’t have to purchase AP content for Maine stories.

It saves money plus reporters at these papers were getting tired of having their byline stripped from a story by the AP and having that same story run in a paper an hour away.

Slublog on October 17, 2008 at 11:03 AM

They promised in 2007 that this new rate structure would result in net savings for its clients, but AP didn’t release the figures until July. Obviously, the rates didn’t produce the results AP described.

Sounds like Obamanomics.

Buy Danish on October 17, 2008 at 11:03 AM

AP won’t be in trouble until a couple of the chains with a lot of smaller papers (such as Gannett) start getting itchy. It won’t be Gannett, ‘coz their alumni now run AP.

either orr on October 17, 2008 at 11:03 AM

Yippeeeee!

toliver on October 17, 2008 at 11:05 AM

Nearly all good salespeople will tell you that if a customer doesn’t buy, it isn’t because of price. I would think someone the size of the AP would have one or two mildly competent salespeople who’d have discussed the new rate structure before rolling it out, get feedback from the newspapers and overcome their objections.

With the Tribune Company being the latest to drop the AP, that tells me they either their (Ed) arrogance got in the way or even the Tribune Company has a threshold for the relentless bias. Either way, it doesn’t appear the AP is in any danger of finding out what the problem is and fixing it. Thank goodness for that.

chachi

cpr on October 17, 2008 at 11:05 AM

Another thing — AP virtually demands that “members” contribute to the report. Usually uncredited (Slublog above is dead right about that).

either orr on October 17, 2008 at 11:06 AM

With the ongoing collapse of the MSM, many “journalists” will land lucrative jobs in advertising, in that they can objectively show how they sold about half of our nation an empty suit.

Patrick S on October 17, 2008 at 11:07 AM

Click Here- Scroll Down.

Dorvillian on Oct 17,2008 at 11:01AM.

Dorvillian: Hopey only needs Putin’s endorsement,me thinks!

BTW,after leaving Obama’s site,and thank-you :)
very much,I’m vigorously scrubbing down my
computer with rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip!
Haha:)

canopfor on October 17, 2008 at 11:11 AM

Double the fun: Tribune Company is also facing default.

JammieWearingFool on October 17, 2008 at 10:56 AM

Well, with luck, they will default soon so AP doesn’t have a full two years notice before the money stops. Maybe, just maybe, the cash flow from Tribune can stop much sooner! It’s Friday! Things are looking up.

CC – BHO: “my Muslim faith”

CapedConservative on October 17, 2008 at 11:12 AM

Could this be the beginning of the shift away from centralized media? From here where do big papers go? Internal? Do they shed alot of staff then bulk up on reporters. Original reporting from newspaper media, frsh issues, fresh perspective, and real investigative journalism. Wouldn’t that be nice.

Theworldisnotenough on October 17, 2008 at 11:13 AM

Zell has a fantastic track record and fantastic business sense. If the Trib is dropping the mammoth wire service, it must be that AP does not value. Look for other papers to follow suit.

Beyond costs, I think that papers need more local focus to remain viable. AP stories are repeated verbatim on radio, cable and local broadcast news, why should subscribers pay for content that is given away elsewhere?

Angry Dumbo on October 17, 2008 at 11:14 AM

Humberto Fontova is amazing. I wish he would get his own radio show.

RushBaby on October 17, 2008 at 11:14 AM

A=always
P=poopy

wepeople on October 17, 2008 at 11:15 AM

Zell has a fantastic track record and fantastic business sense. If the Trib is dropping the mammoth wire service, it must be that AP does not add value. Look for other papers to follow suit.

Beyond costs, I think that papers need more local focus to remain viable. AP stories are repeated verbatim on radio, cable and local broadcast news, why should subscribers pay for content that is given away elsewhere?

Angry Dumbo on October 17, 2008 at 11:14 AM

That’s better

Angry Dumbo on October 17, 2008 at 11:16 AM

Oh, it’s over money. Foolish of me to think it might have had something to do with AP’s biased reporting or misrepresenting facts.

fogw on October 17, 2008 at 11:17 AM

Why does any newspaper need the AP or any other outside news source when the newspapers can just make up the news themselves?

And soon there will be the new organization OP for the media to use – Obama Press. News written by followers of Obama. There will be Obama reporters in every town around the world reporting on glorious Obama news.

albill on October 17, 2008 at 11:17 AM

Keep this story bookmarked folks!

They are just making room for the new news source coming real soon if Obama gets elected. It wont be privately run, lets just put it that way.

Bookmark it, keep it flagged. It will matter later on.

TheHat on October 17, 2008 at 11:17 AM

Dorvillian on October 17, 2008 at 11:01 AM

I wasn’t sure that Stephen Fox was actually proud of Castro’s endorsement until I clicked on the reader comments and read this, which is a response to someone who complains the posts are too long:

Reply
By Stephen Fox, Contributing Editor New Mexico Sun News Yesterday at 11:38 pm EDT (Updated Yesterday at 11:38 pm EDT)
I wanted to make sure it all got in and that all of the recipients could at least read the raw endorsements, because they are brilliantly worded, even the wacky one from American Thinker, which nonetheless manages to quote Castro’s fine endorsement correctly.

If this really is too long for you, please be sure not read any of the ones in the future with the Obama endorsements: they will be even longer and more stupendous.

Also note that the story about the Castro endorsement links Rev. Jeremiah Wright to Castro, which is the real story, since anyone can post on Obama’s community blogs.

Buy Danish on October 17, 2008 at 11:19 AM

Hilarious. Check it out before it’s too late.

Dorvillian on October 17, 2008 at 10:55 AM

Great find….I “Save as Web Page…Complete” whenever I come across these things.

Thanks. I have it if anyone will need it in the future (once scrubbed by the Obamatron Police).

Let’s roll.

ex-Democrat on October 17, 2008 at 11:21 AM

The AP is a joke.

Good news that the Olde Media can’t afford them anymore….they are all going down the tubes.

Let’s roll.

ex-Democrat on October 17, 2008 at 11:23 AM

The AP poll referenced on the home page samples Democrats 57% to Republicans 43% and comes out at 44% to 42%?!?!? My my my… methinks they are trying to hide the true coming landslide…

CC – BHO: “my Muslim faith”

CapedConservative on October 17, 2008 at 11:25 AM

How long before their Democrat sample reaches 90% so they can get a desired result????

CC – BHO: “my Muslim faith”

CapedConservative on October 17, 2008 at 11:30 AM

I guess you do get what you pay for – TV Guide was sold for $1, just like UPI a few years ago. From Variety:

A dollar won’t buy you a cup of coffee these days, but it will buy you TV Guide. No, not an issue of the weekly mag — those go for $2.99 — but the entire publication.
Yep, $1. The eye-popping sale price was disclosed Thursday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing from TV Guide owner Macrovision, which revealed it had struck a deal to sell the magazine to venture capital firm OpenGate Capital on Monday (Daily Variety, Oct. 14).

In fact, the deal is even sweeter for OpenGate because Macrovision has also agreed to give the firm a $9.5 million loan to help it run the magazine for the next few years. And who said the credit markets were tight? The loan comes with a 3% interest rate and is due in 2014 — not exactly stringent terms.

The $1 sale price for TV Guide brings to mind the sale of another once-venerable journo brand: United Press Intl., which was unloaded for a buck by Scripps to two private investors in 1982.

Vashta.Nerada on October 17, 2008 at 11:31 AM

Zell is likely trying to negotiate a better deal over the next two years. But it’s mostly because — as JWF’s default story underscores — Tribune is losing insane amounts of money every day. They reported a $4.5 Billion loss in Q2.

Karl on October 17, 2008 at 11:36 AM

The article in the LA Times a couple of days ago implied that the Tribune’s notice might be a negotiating tactic to get a better deal for the Trib out of AP.

They need it — every few months, the LA Times lays off another group of workers.

I’m still a subscriber to the LA Times, but only because they’ve cut the price about in half every time I phone them to cancel. I’ve gone from $12 per month down to $3.50 per month in a bit over a year. At $3.50, the coupons I clip more than pay the cost of the newspaper.

unclesmrgol on October 17, 2008 at 11:40 AM

Now Buffet is urging people to “buy”… Imagine a guy that put $5 billion into Goldman Sachs when their stock was trading around $120 is now suggesting people buy when Goldman Sachs is trading at $112…. Their oughta be a law… Oh, never mind… there is.

CC – BHO: “my Muslim faith”

CapedConservative on October 17, 2008 at 11:40 AM

Double the fun: Tribune Company is also facing default.

JammieWearingFool on October 17, 2008 at 10:56 AM

That’s change I can believe in.

petefrt on October 17, 2008 at 11:44 AM

When I first saw the headline to this article, I thought, “Awesome! Finally a newspaper has recognized the AP as a front for liberal propoganda and general lack of actual investigative properties…”

Then I read the article and realized they are only dropping the AP because they want to cut costs (I wonder why?)

m064404 on October 17, 2008 at 12:06 PM

The Tribune defection is more than just a revenue loss. It represents a fundamental shift in news. The same thing that permits WalMart to cut out the middle man can be applied to news aggregation. AP’s entire operation could be replaced by a $5k internet server. The original paper posts its news story, the reporter gets the byline national, everybody saves money. Other papers are allowed to copy it. What’s not to like?

But even automation won’t save the papers. Their product sucks, is 24-48hrs late and costs too much to distribute. Of course I view that as a feature, leading to thier ultimate demise.

Dr. Dog on October 17, 2008 at 12:06 PM

In fairness, the AP’s new rate structure

Ed, how did you manage to get “fairness” and “AP” into the same sentence?

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on October 17, 2008 at 12:27 PM

AP sees newspapers as irrelevant and is moving towards online control of information. Lotsa luck with that.

billypaintbrush on October 17, 2008 at 12:36 PM

With the ongoing collapse of the MSM, many “journalists” will land lucrative jobs in advertising, in that they can objectively show how they sold about half of our nation an empty suit.

Patrick S on October 17, 2008 at 11:07 AM

Ha ha! Maybe some of them can sell used cars! I’m sure they’d be able to sell some real lemons.

Badger40 on October 17, 2008 at 12:47 PM

AP already has a major presence in Los Angeles through its bureau there, so losing the Times as a news source isn’t that big a deal. Losing the Tribune Corp. overall as a client and losing all of its papers as sources is, because while AP staffs major cities, the smaller ones often have the nearest AP correspondent 100-200 miles away.

Losing clients is in large part what killed UPI because they lost news sources and it became a vicious cycle — they couldn’t provide enough news outside of the major metro areas, and clients dropped them because they wanted more than just news out of the major metro areas (I suppose with the Internet, AP could bypass their normal newspaper and TV station sources of local news and go directly to regional online freelancers, but my suspicion of what AP-New York would consider a credible freelancer would be someone just as likely to be posting a diary on Daily Kos as they are unbiasedly covering a regional story, especially if it involved politics).

jon1979 on October 17, 2008 at 12:51 PM

The Tribune should have dropped them not because of pricing, but because their quality and objectivity is third rate.

Now if they’d drop the NYT, they’re going somewhere!

Dr. Bob on October 18, 2008 at 12:29 AM

You can add the Columbus Dispatch to the list of newspapers dropping (al-)AP or AP (Obama).

Ignorance, our most costly commodity – paraphrased from Rush Limbaugh.

Wildcatter1980 on October 21, 2008 at 9:49 AM