A shot in the ‘news war’

Record companies have found it almost impossible to control the distribution of music. The Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis is trying to tighten control of its news.

Local Associated Press boss Dave Pyle confirms that starting on Monday, the Star Tribune will restrict the use of AP stories that are rewritten from the Minneapolis newspaper. Currently, media organizations pay the Associated Press — a news cooperative — to use the stories of other news organizations. In exchange, the media organizations make their stories available, via AP, to other news sources. MPR is a member of the cooperative.

Starting Monday, no AP member broadcast news outlet within 30 miles of Minneapolis will be permitted to use Star Tribune material.

Pyle believes it’s an issue that springs primarily from the ability of Web sites owned by traditional media companies to use Star Tribune content.

It’s not a policy without risk, however. Although the Star Tribune clearly is the dominant news provider in the Twin Cities, there is value to the viral nature of distributing content based on Star Tribune reporting.

Similarly, if other stations and news outlets follow suit, and retaliate by prohibiting the use of their news content, it becomes more difficult for any news outlet to fill its pages at a time when original reporting staffs are being cut.

Can news organizations put a cork in the news bottle and control the distribution of their content in the digital age? Perhaps we should ask the record companies.

  • Not exactly sweeping. What news outlets within 30 miles of Minneapolis might be running AP content from the Strib? Hmmm.

    I know if I have to click on a new site that’s more than 30 miles away for my local news, I’ll leave the Strib!

  • Bob Collins

    Pretty much all of them, of course. Blogs, certainly, are in a position to benefit as they will be able to use Strib content by virtue of links (and occasionally “lifting” content).

    Here’s what could happen: The AP starts rewriting Press material more than Strib material, and suddenly the Press becomes the “source” and agenda driver of news more than the Star Tribune.

    Or, as I said, everyone starts slapping embargoes on their copy and suddenly the whole AP structure is dead.

    And, keep in mind, the Star Tribune runs a fair amount of AP copy based on other outlets’ work, too, and, its fair to say, needs the AP copy, what with the reduced amount of reporters it’s seen fit to employ.

    Initially, though, I think the big losers are the three TV stations.

    It’ll be an interesting experiment. In the digital age, how can you “own” the news?

  • My comment was apparently rewritten by the AP. I meant to say:

    I know if I have to click on a new(s) site that’s more than 30 miles away for my local news, I’ll (never) leave the Strib!

    Which was sarcastic and not as clear as Bob’s note, anyway.

  • Of course, the problem for bloggers is that the StarTribune locks down their own content after a set amount of time, making it the last place I’d choose to link to from any of the blogs I run. This is a common sentiment of local bloggers.

    I guess we’ll just find other stuff worth writing about.