New AP Cost Structure Draws Fire

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Some influential newspaper editors, already embattled by the ad recession and competition from online news sources, are protesting the new Associated Press ‘Member Choice’ pricing plan. On December 21, 2007, six Ohio newspaper editors signed a protest letter. A January 8, 2008 letter received broader support including the signatures of editors Bill Marimow of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Martin Baron of the Globe, and, among others, Susan Goldberg of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland. From EditorandPublisher:

”The new ‘Member Choice’ plan, which essentially expands the availability of breaking news content, but puts other stories on an a la carte basis, will be implemented in 2009. AP contends that the new structure will save member newspapers some $6 million.

”… But the new rate plan has not received positive reactions from numerous editors, including two groups that recently wrote protest letters to AP officials about the fee structure that was first announced in October.

”The most recent editors’ letter, sent Jan. 2, 2008, was from a group of eight newsroom leaders at major newspapers, ranging from The Boston Globe to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Addressed to AP President Tom Curley and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll, it took issue with the AP rates and the recent new structure plan.

”’The failure of Associated Press to cut its rates is especially mystifying given that AP itself seems to be expanding, most recently adding to its already robust, admirably strong foreign coverage, even as its newspaper members undergo rigorous and continuous belt-tightening,’ the letter states, in part. ‘Editors would have welcomed consultation, in the traditional spirit of partnership between AP and member newspapers, on whether foreign coverage was more important to them than a rate cut.”’

Under the new ‘Members Choice’ structure, AP member newspapers would have additional news categories on an a la carte payment basis.

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