Monday, March 20, 2006

AP Settles in to Dot-Com Digs and a Future Spanning Old and New Visions of News

A recent visit to the Associated Press headquarters in New York City brought me not to tony Rockefeller Center but to the more utilitarian west side of Manhattan, where AP has carved out a new home in space formerly occupied by the DoubleClick online ad network. While many media companies have taken up residence on the west side in recent years to cut costs and gain more open office space, there is something particularly symbolic about a news organization with more than 150 years of history settling down in a facility that is firmly set in the twenty-first century's vision of content creation. The lobby display cases show wonderful memorabilia such as cameras, typewriters and style manuals from the archives of AP but the news floors are strictly today's business environment, with multi-screen desktops spewing out text, video and audio to AP's editorial staff.

There are deep-rooted traditions in the news business that have kept many news organizations from reinventing themselves effectively in today's marketplace, but the AP is moving rapidly to set its own pace as a leader in news content distribution and creation. With venerable competitors like Reuters trying their own impressive modern approaches to content development and distribution and the Wall Street Journal signing on to distribute select features content via Yahoo! Finance there's ample reason for AP to be aggressive in its thinking. In a news market that sees more branded content showing up in more content channels than ever before it's important for news organizations to bring their brands' value closer to readers who are increasingly agnostic in their approach to finding content. With its participation in experiments such as Newsvine AP is doing just that, even as it defines new ways to provide value to its members news organizations engaged in similar reader outreach efforts. Its facility is new and its marketing increasingly progressive, but the best of AP's traditions are not likely to be forgotten as it carves a path to provide the most value that it can to a global news marketplace.
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