The Associated Press has long been held as an institution that provides news content to newspapers and TV stations far and wide by pulling content from its partners and then pushing that content out to other members.
Before there was an Internet AP was one of the first aggregators and distributors of news content and for many years they were at the top of the pyramid along with fellow news aggregators UPI and Reuters among others.
The Associated Press is one of the primary organizations in the newsroom that people count on to get breaking news from. I get all my AP content from their wire feed. It’s a commonly held position in the newsroom that if AP reports it then its fact. If the AP hasn’t reported it then it hasn’t been confirmed. It’s just scanner traffic … and we don’t report scanner traffic.
So here’s where I ask the question I posed in my headline: Why isn’t the AP on Twitter? None of their news gets broken or aggregated through Twitter. They have no real presence whatsoever on that platform. Why is that? I would assume it’s money. There’s no workable business model for Twitter – unless you pay for that premium Twitter service and good luck with that – so I assume that if they can’t make money off of it then that’s why the AP isn’t there.
When Coach Tony Bennett decided to leave Pullman for Virginia do you know where I found out about that? From a newspaper I was following on Twitter. Who broke that Michael Jackson was dead? TMZ.com on Twitter … and they did that more than half an hour before the AP broke it on the wires. There have been more than a half dozen major stories that we’ve followed in our newsroom in recent weeks that were broken by TV stations, newspapers, magazines, cable networks on Twitter. I now get most of my breaking news now from the source – the individual Twitter accounts of CNN, Washington Post, New York Times, Time Magazine, MSNBC, KING 5, KTVB, et cetera – instead of the middle man at the Associated Press whose wires are usually 20 to 30 minutes behind the news cycle as it develops on Twitter.
Here’s another example of how important Twitter is to that breaking news cycle. Yesterday I wrote the following Tweet around 3 PM:
“This just in” … $200 MILLION pot bust going down at tree farm near Burbank … May be largest bust in Washington state history …
Within five minutes someone from KOMO Newsradio was calling from Seattle looking for someone to interview about that Tweet.
The Associated Press had a story of their own on the wires over an hour after my first Tweet.
Twitter is arguably one of the single-most important tools available for distribution of content across the Internet. It makes sense for us to have a Twitter account because news outlets far and wide aren’t breaking news by sending it to AP anymore; they’re breaking news by posting it to Twitter.
So asides from trying to figure out how to make money off of it … why isn’t the AP breaking news on Twitter? The fact is the longer they refrain from embracing the technology that many are using for headline aggregation the farther they take themselves out of the breaking news game.
Parting shot: A few minutes after I wrote this I got a Tweet from @JeffJarvis (Not me personally, I subscribe to his Twitter feed) where he discussed How (and why) to replace the AP. Talk about timing.
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