Life After the Associated Press
by Al Diamon
Going wireless: Since Jan. 1, the Bangor Daily News has been operating without the services of the Associated Press. The paper dumped the wire service in order to save money, replacing it with Reuters, a cheaper alternative.
To date, I doubt most Bangor Daily readers have noticed. The world, national and sports news are all still there in adequate quantity and quality. The BDN also hasn’t missed any major local scoops from the AP, mostly because there haven’t been any (not an uncommon occurrence given staffing cutbacks).
So, everything’s swell, right?
One of the services the AP performs for news consumers is picking up enterprise stories from its member organizations and distributing them statewide and beyond. In times past, a good piece, such as the Bangor Daily’s discovery that Maine’s new deputy medical examiner was fired from his job as chief medical examiner in Massachusetts for misplacing a body, would have gotten plenty of play on radio, TV and in other newspapers, thanks to an AP rewrite. Now, that doesn’t happen, so important news tends to get less distribution. Likewise, an article on a more dangerous type of bath salts finding its way into Maine got overlooked by many news outlets because the AP didn’t spoon-feed it to them.
Of course, the broadcast journalists who previously relied on the AP to inform them of what the BDN had discovered could just go out and buy a copy of the paper, sort through the day’s yield and do their own rewrites (complete, I would hope, with appropriate attribution). Hell, they could even skip a few lifestyle stories and minor traffic accidents and actually do their own digging.
I’m not sure what the long-term consequences of this shift in news delivery will be. The Bangor Daily stories are readily available on the Web and in other papers with which it shares material, so committed news junkies will probably still find them. But the apparently antiquated concept that your local paper of record would eventually carry all the important stories from around the state appears to be fading away.
But then, so is the paper of record.
(Disclosure: The Bollard has a business relationship with the Bangor Daily News.)
Aggregate this: Maine News Simply was started in 2010 as a news aggregator — that is, a website that featured headlines from lots of news sources with links to the original stories. I didn’t think much of the idea then.
I think less of it now.
Anyone who relies on MNS to provide them with even a clue about what’s going on is wallowing in ignorance.
The site appears to be run by robots. On Jan. 16 at noon, there was nothing about Maine’s budget problems or Gov. Paul LePage’s controversial plans to deal with them. Instead, there were some reports of traffic accidents, some links to feature pieces in weekly papers, a link to a Portland Press Herald story from that morning’s edition about a local company being named to a Forbes magazine best-of list, and a leftover weather story from 7 a.m. warning that it was about to start snowing (it had been doing so for hours). The “Regional Sports” section featured mostly news that had nothing to do with Maine or New England. The business section was all national stuff.
In short, most of what might be important locally wasn’t here.
Maine News Simply is one for three. It is simple.
Al Diamon can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.