Mark Twain’s AP no more

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Mark Twain’s AP no more

Mark Twain’s AP no more

Mark Twain said, “There are only two forces that can carry light to all the corners of the globe… the sun in the heavens and the Associated Press down here.” The sun is still shining, but the AP could lose 10 percent of its staff in 2009. As ominous, major media players have done the once unthinkable—they’ve cancelled their contracts with the AP.

Editor & Publisher posts that AP CEO Tom Curley told employees that the venerable wire service wants to cut jobs, but hopes that can be accomplished through attrition. The wire service may eliminate 300 of 3,000 editorial jobs next year and will continue with its hiring freeze.

The non-profit AP announced healthy finances in the summer, with $24 million in profit from $710 million in revenues. But the New York Times reports that could be endangered if news organizations follow through on intentions to leave the press association.

Included among these are the Tribune Company, owners of 14 leading newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, the Baltimore Sun, Newsday and the Orlando Sentinel. The Tribune also owns numerous television and radio stations. The Trib, which has laid off hundreds, if not thousands of journalists, said it needed to continue cutting costs.

Smaller newspapers said AP’s content has changed so much it no longer meets their needs and that the AP is competing with them on the Internet by reposting their material in other venues and formats. Newspapers in Ohio and Pennsylvania are experimenting with their own press cooperatives.

AP told the NYT it is trying to save money for its members in a number of ways that will emerge during the coming year.

–Michael Blankenheim and Lisa Rowan

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