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Tribune experiments with dropping AP

Newspapers are seen on display at a newspaper stand in San Francisco, Calif.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: As fewer people read newspapers, fewer newspapers can afford the wire services, like the Associated Press. The Tribune Company said today it wants a trial separation from the AP. Next week it's going to experiment with not using AP stories and pictures in its papers, including the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. Marketplace's Stacey Vanek-Smith has more on the changing economics of journalism.


STACEY VANEK-SMITH: The bankrupt Tribune Company spends millions of dollars a year on its subscription to the Associated Press. Next week, it's going to test drive some less expensive services, like Reuters, Bloomberg and The New York Times.

GERRY KERN: We're essentially doing some comparison shopping.

Gerry Kern is vice president of editorial for Tribune Publishing.

GERRY KERN: What we're trying to learn here is, if we can essentially unbundle wire services and buy only what we need.

Kern says Tribune papers, like the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, are using a lot less wire copy these days.

And that's industry-wide, says media analyst Ken Doctor.

KEN DOCTOR: The AP has been like a utility. It's kind of like running water for newspapers. It fills in big and little gaps in their coverage.

But now, Doctor says papers are focusing more on local news and don't need the AP's vast offerings of international and national stories. Readers get so much of that from TV and the Internet. Earlier this year, the AP slashed prices to try to hold on to subscribers.

That's not the answer, says Jeff Jarvis, journalism professor at City University of New York.

JEFF JARVIS: The fundamentals of the media economy are changing, from a content economy to a link-based economy.

Jarvis says the AP needs to become the broker for those links, like helping the Baltimore Sun link to a story about GM from the Detroit Free Press. Or providing links to news about the Tribune Company's AP-free week ... maybe not.

In Los Angeles, I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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