Associated Press reinvents itself as it braces for the digital age

Associated Press reinvents itself as it braces for the digital age

New York: After a decade of watching newspapers and rival news agencies shrink, The Associated Press(AP), the 161- year-old news cooperative, is refitting itself to handle the 24-hour news cycle it helped give birth to.

“You have to adjust to the marketplace," said Jim Kennedy, AP’s vice-president for strategic planning. “The new generation of consumers has completely different habits."

To feed those habits and manage the news cycle more efficiently, AP will change the way it files, edits and distributes stories, opening at least four regional editing hubs as part of a plan it calls AP2.0. The news agency also is expanding its multimedia packages for entertainment, business and sports reports. And the company is moving towards an all-digital platform it calls the “Digital Cooperative".

The changes, AP said, will counter what hampered some of its rivals, such as Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters, which, over the last decade, have cut their staffs as revenues have fallen.

Dow Jones Newswires is part of Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal with which Mint has a content partnership.

Kathleen Carroll, AP’s executive editor, said the company’s responsibility was to “preserve our future, so that we can continue to provide news from remote places," and to “rev up our journalism" to make it compelling to customers.

The idea behind the regional hubs, which mimic an overhaul of AP’s foreign operations earlier in the decade, is to reduce editing gridlock at its major filing desks, including that in New York. The regional hubs will handle coverage in their areas, and the New York desk will focus on “the stories that are the tip top of the day," Carroll said.

Kennedy said another goal was to get editors in the regional bureaus back into reporting, which would increase the amount of content, and to reduce the number of people who work on an article during a news cycle. Some employees, however, are wondering what these changes, particularly the new regional editing hubs, will mean for them.

©2007/The New York Times