AP pay-fer-content move and OJR comment – missing a trick?

Dr. Frank Venturo, dad-in-law extraordinaire and chief of the Pit’s Gunnison Valley Desk, sends along this commentary from Bob Benz and Mike Phillips at the OJR.

In general, they raise interesting questions about the AP’s “April 18 announcement that it would start charging newspaper and broadcast clients an additional fee for using AP content on their web sites,” a move they characterize as an “act of self-destruction.”

While I’d argue that there is much of merit in their analysis, I would take issue with this one little bit, which strikes me as a terribly suspect assumption: “As content loses value, expert editing and customer-driven bundling are becoming the tools for building audience. And audience – not content – is the news industry’s value proposition.”

Maybe. No arguing the importance of audience, I guess. But I think a better argument can be made that content is increasing in value, because the explosion of analysis in the blogosphere has to have something to comment on. As Denny Wilkins (drdenny) lately observed in a post at , the number of actual reporters working in news agencies continues to decrease. Now, unless we’re prepared to argue that we just don’t need a reporting function anymore, or unless we see some plausible expectation that the citizen journalists of the world can assume the full spectrum of what institutional journalists do right now, wouldn’t we have conclude that the value of raw reportage is going to increase?

I’m obviously somewhat bullish on the brave new world of online interpretive journalism, but I’m also keenly aware of the looming crisis in original content generation. No matter how smart I may think I am, I’m inherently hamstrung in my efforts to provide illumination and perspective if the quality of pure reportage I rely on is compromised, aren’t I?

Hmmm. I have to think about this….

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2 thoughts on “AP pay-fer-content move and OJR comment – missing a trick?

  1. Right!
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