As information becomes increasingly available and accessible online, newspapers find it hard to justify paying for a subscription to news wire services: an Associated Press membership, for example, can cost up to $800,000 a year for a newspaper. As a cost cutting measure, newspapers are sharing their news rather than subscribing to costly news wire services. Some examples are Tulsa World and the Oklahoman, Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun, and the Philadelphia Inquirer with Pittsburg Post-Gazette,
Simon Owens of MediaShift looked more closely into the opinions of an Ohio newspaper cooperative called Ohio News Organization (OHNO)*. The eight papers involved began by sharing news through the AP, who would re-edit their articles to then give them to the papers requesting. For about a year now, they have been sharing content without the middle man through a secure site and several OHNO members have given their two year notice to end their subscription with the AP.
Beacon Journal editor Bruce Winges said that despite working with competitors, "readers want good stories, and this is another way to get good stories to readers. If you would have asked me several years ago if we would have been doing this, I probably would have said I don't think so, but it worked, and it's worked well for us I think."
Despite measures to end their memberships and their new cooperatives, the Ohio newspapers still have hope in the AP's future. Alan Miller, managing editor for the Columbus Dispatch--which put in notice to discontinue AP service--- said, "I think that if AP continues to work toward something that's more palatable to newspapers that are struggling with the current economic conditions, that what they offer is still in demand," he said. Miller's frustrations with the AP came from how long it took to acquire a version of a competitor's story, which could take up to 24 hours. He also noted that occasionally the AP would not credit them in a re-edited form of their story.
Paul Colford, director of Media relations for the AP said they always work to fully credit people's stories, but "if we weave a couple of member stories together, we don't provide that credit."
Metro US is also ending its AP membership along with the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune, who "have put the AP on notice that they may cancel their memberships at the end of the required two-year notification period. They are still members in good standing," said Colford. In addition, the AP recently announced measures to reduce rates and add more content options for 2010. They also said they will crack down on misappropriation of their content online, not tolerating simply linking and quoting.
* Members of OHNO: Columbus Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Toledo Blade, Dayton Daily News, Akron Beacon Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, Canton Repository and the Youngstown Vindicator