AP on notice

According to Editor & Publisher, The Star-Ledger is one of several daily newspapers discussing the formation of content-sharing consortium that could provide them with state or regional feeds in place of those provided by The Associated Press.

The story says:

A “Northeast Consortium” of newspapers, which will include New York’s Daily News … Newsday, The Buffalo News, the Times-Union of Albany, N.Y., and the Star Ledger of Newark, N.J. is weeks away from announcing a content-sharing arrangement that will include both stories and photos.

One executive who spoke on condition of anonymity and who attended the “summit” of New York-area papers, held in Manhattan within the past two weeks, cited cost savings, more timely exchange of content, and what that executive called “a new spirit of cooperation” as the primary motivations for such an undertaking. This source referred to the “Draconian terms” of the AP, which last Thursday responded to newspapers’ concerns by announcing further rate cuts and restructuring.

I’m not privy to our AP fees, but The Columbus Dispatch, with daily circulation more than 100,000 lower than The Star-Ledger, pays $800,000 a year, according to E&P.

But this isn’t just about money, according to the story’s source.

“It’s fair to say that newspapers across America are upset with the treatment they get from the AP,” the executive said. “Newspapers are now taking the view that they want to take events into their own hands. The truth of it is, there is a real desire to get better content, shared among people in non-competitive markets.”

AP is responding to the rising tide of dissatisfaction by freezing or lowering fees and discontinuing its tier structure for distribution of text.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer is apparently already part of such a group made up of Ohio newspapers.

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