The Associated Press is expanding its project that aims to distribute content from nonprofit news organisations to newspapers, the agency announced yesterday in a press release. The project was started in 2009, but newspapers have been slow to make use of nonprofits' stories. AP is now changing the platform the stories are provided on, hoping that it will make it easier for newspaper to find and use the available content.
Nieman Journalism Lab welcomed the expansion, noting that the project, despite having a lot of potential, has not taken off as expected. Six months after the launch, it was reported that newspapers were not picking up nonprofit's content as much as had been hoped. Some of the blame was put on the content distribution platform, AP Exchange, which was said to make accessing stories unnecessarily difficult.
To bring the platform up a level, the expanded partnership with nonprofits will use AP WebFeeds platform. AP WebFeeds allows for easier searching and sorting of stories, thanks to improved use of metadata. The biggest change is that the new platform makes it possible for stories to flow directly into papers' content management systems.
According to Kate Butler, AP's vice president for US newspaper markets, AP WebFeeds "removes a step and makes it easier for the content to be seen." The new system will be first tested with Californian nonprofit organisations.
News publishers may opt in to allow nonprofit stories to be sent to their CMSs. But as Nieman Lab noted, it is hard to imagine why a publisher would not make use of the opportunity to have a seamless access to stories from nonprofit news organisations, as they tend to be in the public interest and of high quality. The content can be used free of charge.
Both nonprofit news providers and newspapers could potentially benefit from the arrangement: the stories would get more exposure while newspapers would have free quality content at their disposal.
The project originally started as a partnership with four nonprofit news providers: ProPublica, the Center for Public Integrity, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and the Investigative Reporting Workshop. Yesterday, AP also announced a fifth partnership, with the Maynard Institute.