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BREAKING: The ways people hear about big news these days; “into a million pieces,” says source
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March 19, 2024, 2:56 p.m.
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LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Sophie Culpepper   |   March 19, 2024

About a year ago, my colleague Josh Benton scrutinized just how much the newspaper company Gannett has contributed to the destruction of local news. Crunching some numbers, he found that “Gannett has eliminated more than half of its jobs in the United States in four years.” When Josh took a look at his own hometown paper, The Daily Advertiser of Lafayette, Louisiana (one of Gannett’s 200+ local newspapers, on top of USA Today) he noted, “There are now days when zero news stories out of Lafayette are published.” What is published on those days? A hodgepodge of stories from other Gannett publications across the state (which, he observed, “look like thinly reskinned versions of each other”) — and wire stories.

This is all important context to bear in mind when taking in the news first reported Tuesday by Ben Mullin that, starting March 25, Gannett will no longer publish the AP’s wire content.

Natalie Korach reported for The Wrap that, specifically, Gannett is ending its legacy AP premium subscription, and described the change as “a significant blow to the not-for-profit wire service collective that still relies heavily on its premium memberships.” The end of this partnership means Gannett will stop using “AP dispatches, photos, and video.” Korach noted, “For years, editors at the AP generated items for USA Today’s famous ‘News From Around Our 50 States’ page; AP news, reviews and photos have been a staple in Gannett-owned local morning and afternoon editions for generations.”

A Gannett spokesperson confirmed the news to me in an email. “This decision enables us to invest further in our newsrooms and leverage our incredible USA Today Network of more than 200 newsrooms across the nation as well USA Today to reach and engage more readers, viewers and listeners,” chief communications officer Lark-Marie Anton told me in a statement. Anton declined to comment on how much the AP partnership cost Gannett.

The AP partnership end doesn’t mean wire content will entirely disappear from Gannett publications — “We will leverage Reuters for global news as appropriate,” Anton told me.

AP media relations manager Nicole Meir told me in a statement, “We are shocked and disappointed to see this memo.” She added, “Our conversations with Gannett have been productive and are ongoing. We remain hopeful Gannett will continue to support the AP beyond the end of their membership term at the end of 2024, as they have done for over a century.”

At least one person, to some extent, saw this news coming. In his 2022 Nieman Lab prediction, Syracuse University associate journalism professor Joshua Darr wrote that “a major metropolitan daily will sever its ties with the major wire services and go local-only.” His prediction was supportive of that change; he argued, “Local newspapers should stop filling their published product with non-local news and focus on what makes them unique, even if this breaks from the tradition of what many expect from a local newspaper or televised newscast.” But Darr, and others, remain skeptical about whether Gannett will go local-only:

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