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KAI RYSSDAL: There are a lot of reasons newspapers are on life support. But one of the big ones is that you can get almost all the news you want online for free. A lot of that theoretically free news comes courtesy of the Associated Press. It’s free for us to consume, not for the AP to produce. Which is why it won’t be free too much longer.
The AP says it has a new way to track its stories and monitor where they go on the Internet. Once they know where those stories are, you can imagine what comes next.
Marketplace’s Stacey Vanek-Smith reports.
Stacey Vanek-Smith: The Associated Press calls itself the oldest and largest news organization in the world. It’s that size and prominence that makes it especially vulnerable to internet pirating, says the AP’s Jane Seagrave.
Jane Seagrave: We’ve been concerned for a number of years that our content is being misappropriated by aggegators who are not paying for it.
The AP says those aggregators, like the Drudge Report, are costing it millions of dollars a year. Under the new plan, the AP will embed a tracking device in its stories, so it can monitor who uses them and charge them a fee.
Sree Sreenivasan teaches digital media at Columbia University. He says all media are struggling to find an online business model that works.
Sree Sreenivasan: People are paying for things online, they’re just not necessarily paying for news online. It’ll be important to get people to understand that there is a value in news.
There is value in the news, but not in the old model, says Jeff Jarvis, who runs the blog, Buzzmachine.
Jeff Jarvis: The AP is working on the now outmoded content economy, where you could take a piece of content, copy it, sell it and make money. On the Internet, all you need is one copy of anything and it’s the links to that content that give it value.
Jarvis says the AP is punishing itself. He says bloggers and others will just start linking to news sources that don’t charge.
Vanek-Smith: So I have to ask: you have a blog, do you link to AP stories?
Jarvis: I did.
I’m Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.