Wednesday, April 6, 2005

The Associated Press Gears Up for an Era of User-Centric Aggregation

Associated Press President Tom Curley spoke recently before some of their membership in Texas and highlighted the upcoming AP delivery platform that will enable more direct delivery of text and multimedia content to a wider range of devices and platforms than ever before. Curley notes the shift away from newspapers, scheduled broadcasts and bookmarked Web sites towards the consumption of specific news items collected directly via users on PCs, TiVos and portable devices. Being a member-driven organization, the new AP platform is designed to help member news firms get their content into these new user-driven content channels more effectively by allowing member news organizations to search and select content more efficiently. The question being begged, though, is how an organization like AP can convert this "supplier to the suppliers" model into a sourcing model that's able to deliver its members' content more directly to the expanding universe of channels for news content.

The AP is evolving its marketing positioning to become a more aggressive player in distribution of news from both its members and other sources of news in a convenient format, but one wonders how it will be able to turn the "ship of state" quickly enough to address new market opportunities when its members hold on to making aging content channels more effective. As a service organization for news outlets the AP must walk a narrow path between servicing existing news infrastructures while becoming a more efficient distributor that can succeed beyond this loyal base. In the meantime, services such as Google News and RSS feeds have brought a new level of universality to news delivery that bypass both the AP value proposition and the value proposition of traditional news organizations to bring effective news delivery and aggregation into anyone's hands. There's a place for organizations like AP in this mix, but it will require even more aggressive thinking about how to make the most of being a "middle man" in the content industry.
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