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Star Tribune not among 50 papers rescinding AP cancellation — yet

This will be an interesting week for Chicago Tribune readers — the paper will run next-to-no Associated Press content. The “experiment” began Sunday.

Cost-cutting newspapers began turning their fire on AP in 2008. They complained that the wire service was too expensive, especially as papers were shrinking to focus on “unique” local news rather than national/international coverage available on thousands of web sites. AP received 180 cancellation notices, even though the wire service is jointly owned by the papers themselves.

One of the biggest potential quitters: the Star Tribune, which gave notice in summer ’08. Because AP has an oppressive two-year notice requirement, the Strib can’t pull the plug on what is probably a seven-figure expense until next summer.

But are they still planning to? Since the exit notices flooded in, AP has revised rates, and announced last week that 50 of the 180 papers have rescinded their cancellations. The wire service did not name most of the papers; a partial list included the big-city New York Daily News.

As it turns out, the Strib remains on the “going, going …” list, according to spokesman Ben Taylor. “We haven’t decided on AP; evaluating our options right now,” he says.

On some level, this makes sense. The Strib has a brand-new board of directors who haven’t hired a publisher; leaving a wire service that plumps out the paper, and often fills local holes, would be the new operating chief’s call, and there’s still more than six months to make it.

Still, I’m betting the Strib won’t bust a move. Why? Aside from the potential logistics, there’s something almost as important: relationships. One of paper’s four new board members, GateHouse Media CEO Michael E. Reed, is also on AP’s board. Of course, Reed has a fiduciary duty to the Strib, and may not participate should the matter come up. But if I’m an APer, I’m thinking this doesn’t hurt my chances.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Sheila Ehrich on 11/09/2009 - 12:02 pm.

    Oh goody! I can look forward to LESS news in my newspaper?!? I know you can find national and international news on websites, but aside from reading MinnPost at lunch, I still prefer to get my news from a paper that I can hold in my hands as I relax in a comfortable chair in the evening. (I’m obviously over 50.) So what will be the point of picking up a local paper if all you get is local news? I can get that on most any local radio station as I drive home.

  2. Submitted by Rick Prescott on 11/10/2009 - 01:51 am.

    The extensive use of AP material was one of the reasons that I VERY RELUCTANTLY canceled my Strib subscription earlier this year. (The other major reason had to do with time-intensive parenting obligations.)

    AP content is completely ubiquitous on the web — and everywhere else. By the time it showed up on my front porch, it was already read, digested, analyzed, responded to, and superseded.

    David mentions the emerging strategy of reinventing the local newspaper as a truly LOCAL institution, and that’s the future. Syndicated content, because it now has so many alternate outlets, is — and should be — the past for the print medium.

    I hope the Strib can shake the AP dust off of their heels.

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