Friday, April 15, 2011

Morning Brief: AP to change formula for determining fees as agency pursues new revenue; Facebook wants you!

The Associated Press, the much maligned and resented American news agency released two statements yesterday about their attempts to grow revenue. The first announced that it will change the formula for determining the fees its charges its media customers, the second involved the hiring of a former ABC News executive to lead an independent agency created to grow revenue from licensing.

Starting next year, the AP said it will being charging its fees based on the size of the newspaper's print and digital audiences. The change is an obvious effort to make sure that as readers move from print to digital the AP is still getting paid. The statement failed to say how this in anyway will be of benefit to its customers. In fact, the statement puts the blame for AP's declining revenue squarely on the shoulders of its customers saying that the cause of its revenue woes "has been AP's decision to lower its rates during the past two years to help newspapers cope with a sharp drop in advertising revenue."

See, all you publishers, its your fault that the AP reported a loss of $14.7 million last year.

The language here reminds me of the US Postal Service, which yearly complains about its revenue woes, and each year appears to want to drive its publishing customers out of business.

The second AP announcement was that it is bringing on David Westin, the former president of ABC News, to lead a new agency designed to generate revenue by licensing news content for online customers.
The agency doesn't appear to be designed to create any new products, but to make online sites pay for the news they take from the AP. The AP statements says that "customers include websites that run or excerpt content from those news providers without paying for it." This has to be the strangest definition of a "customer" that I have heard of.

One would guess that the AP is attempting to build an RIAA model, where its real for being will be to harass bloggers and aggregators into pay for anything they believe originated from an AP source.

Sounds like its time to stop quoting the AP.

Meanwhile, CNN writer Mark Millan reports that Facebook wants to "friend" reporters and news organization in order to attract more news content to its News Feeds. The social networking site has hired Vadim Lavrusik away from Mashable, where he had been a community manager.
Lavrusik appears to be the right guy for the job. In his background is some work with social media for the NYT. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where he teaches social media skills. Lavruski is also the founder of the Community Managers Meetup, according to his website.

Question: looking at the two pictures here, which guy do you think would be more likely to come into your office and talk to you ways to grow your business, and which guy is likely to come in with a group of lawyers trailing behind?