Friday, April 03, 2009

Four free dailies drop the AP

The three U.S. editions of Metro (New York, Philadelphia and Boston) and the independently-owned Denver (Colo.) Daily News have dropped the Associated Press wire service in the past month.

Cost was a factor for all four publications. AP charges member papers based on their circulation, which puts free dailies at a disadvantage since a 100,000 circulation free paper doesn't generate anywhere near the revenue of a 100,000 paid circulation paper.

Other wire services such as Reuters and Bloomberg cost much less and still deliver the big stories. However, AP does a better job at regional news and sports — it has bureaus in all 50 states and can use the copy of its approximately 1,700 member papers.

CNN plans to offer a wire service for newspapers this fall, and that might lead to more defections from AP.

AP has also become less attractive to free daily publishers because its stories are now transmitted on a real time basis on a variety of different platforms — TV, radio, the Internet, mobile phones and even TV screens at point-of-sale locations such as gas pumps. The challenge for free dailies is to provide news to readers that actually seems new.

Metro intends to fill its pages with more staff-written material as well as copy from its papers around the world.

“We believe that the future of our titles lies in producing as much of our own material as possible,” Tony Metcalf, editor in chief of Metro USA, said in a statement. “By relying more on our own reporting staff, we make a substantial saving while protecting the newspapers’ quality and improving relevance to our local markets.”