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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The AP and Bloggers

by Calculated Risk on 6/17/2008 01:36:00 PM

Last week the Associated Press (AP) sent out a notice to a blogger demanding that all AP excerpts be removed from his blog. Needless to say this created quite a fire storm in the blogger world. The AP has backed down and is now working with some bloggers to create some guidelines for excerpts. Atrios has been following this story.

Here is the AP version of the story via the NY Times: AP to meet with blogging group to form guidelines

I think the AP is going about this all wrong. It seems to me the problem isn't bloggers violating "fair use". The real problem is the AP business model no longer works. The AP currently operates as a not-for-profit cooperative, owned by its membership (daily newspapers). It appears the AP charges members and subscribers for content to pay their expenses.

Compare this to most online newspapers that are based on an advertising model. They provide content that draws readers, and then they sell advertising on their websites. With this model, the newspapers encourage bloggers and other online sites to link to their content (with small excerpts).

In fact I frequently receive emails from journalists thanking me for linking to their stories - and I suppose helping to boost their traffic a little. This is a model that works, and they see blogging as a complementary product.

But this doesn't work for the AP. When the bloggers link to an AP story, it might be in Podunk Press, and yes - that would drive traffic to Podunk - but the AP doesn't receive any more revenue, and the other newspapers with the same AP story complain that they are getting scooped by the bloggers.

The answer is for the AP to innovate. Perhaps the AP could measure the traffic to each newspaper, and when Podunk is getting extra hits, Podunk would pay more for the story. Or perhaps the AP could have a specific AP news site for bloggers to link to. The AP could sell advertising on this site, and that would offset some of their expenses and reduce the costs for their members.

The answer is to change the model. Adapt. Innovate.