Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wire Service(s)

I must be really "seasoned." Once there was not one, not two, but three national news wire services. They were Associated Press, of couse, and also United Press and International News Service. Imagine that many choices available to a newsroom.

When I started in the business, my radio station subscribed to International. Not long after (the year? I won't tell) INS merged with United Press to become United Press International.

Then, there were two -- United Press International and Associated Press.

Then, there was one. UPI went out of active business (it still exists but only in a skeletal form after being bought and sold several times.) Associated Press became the one and only national news wire based in the United States.

Reuters has been around perhaps longer than AP. But it's AP that's found in most U.S. newsrooms.

Competition was once keen among the three, then between the two. Now, there's the one and I sense there's little if any urgency to satisfy subscribers -- thus, the ultimate consumer, the public.

At least it doesn't exist in domestic broadcast newsrooms.

Case in point: Today, just as I was beginning an hour-long live news program, I noticed a bulletin on the AP national wire. It was one sentence about a federal judge ruling that California could, indeed, impose greenhouse gas emission restrictions on automakers. That's a story of interest to my audience Thirty minutes later all that remained was the one sentence with no elaboration.

I wanted the story. Before I went live, I checked an internet source that carries Associated Press. There was a full story. I read it live.

Thirty minutes after that? My expensive subscription, satelittle-delivered Associated Press wire delivered the same story to me.

But that was an hour later than the original headine. And a half hour after I got the AP story elsewhere.

Should my newsroom continue to pay money for a properietary, expensive feed?

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