Associated Press CEO: “The Inverted Pyramid Is Dead”

According to AP head honcho Tom Curley, the inverted pyramid is dead.

He made the statement at last night’s Knight-Bagehot Dinner here in New York. Not only that, but Rupert Murdoch‘s takeover of the Wall Street Journal was a damn good thing and that newspapers need to shift their focus to making sure they can “control how our content flows on the web.”

Some choice excerpts from Curley’s speech:

News Corp. has been a hugely successful, long-term operator. Even before taking ownership, Murdoch has changed financial journalism for the better in this city. People at other organizations know Murdoch is not afraid. They have begun to make decisions to invest or redeploy — decisions they had postponed for years. […]

The inverted pyramid is dead. Bet you never expected someone from AP to say that — especially since we invented it. OK, the report of the pyramid’s demise is premature. AP is cranking out pyramids even as we sit here. But there are fewer pyramids in AP’s future. We need the bulletins and the brains. The bulletins are the first 150 words, getting the news out fast, in conversational radio fashion.
The brains are the people who can add real value whether through perspective, deeper reporting or great writing. In short, we need talent, a lot of it and some of it very different. […]

Think of it as a mix from news radio to The New Yorker all under one roof with the New York Public Library thrown in […]

The clock is ticking, of course, and not just from the digital shift. We face an epic news year with a wide open national election, Beijing Olympics, a slowing and heavily leveraged economy and the possibility of expanding strife in the Middle East. […]

The future is as clear as it was when the founders of AP rallied around the use of the telegraph in the 19th century. In fact, if you read the history of those days, you could make an argument that those guys reacted more quickly to the shift they saw. You can bet that if they saw a Google, a Yahoo or a Facebook, they would have figured out what to do about them.

A transcript was placed online this morning; Curley was previously interviewed by’s Kate Dailey as well.