Five Minutes

Five minutes is about how long I had to wait for a story covered by the AP to be covered by someone else so I could write on it and not break my AP boycott.

The story in question was regarding Senator Obama’s retort to John McCain’s campaign calling him naive. The first headline I saw came from the AP, and, staying true to my boycott, I didn’t even bother clicking on the link. Which is fine, because ABC’s Jake Tapper had what was most likely a more useful story anyway.

My point is that I seriously can’t fathom what the hell the AP is thinking with their continued insistence of trying to play hardball with bloggers. Now, as it turns out, you are more than free to quote articles from the AP, but in order to do so, you have to pay fixed rates based on how many words you use.

Let’s get this straight right here and right now; I’m not paying twelve dollars to reproduce five words from an AP article. I’m just not going to do it and the way the news works these days, there’s really not that much incentive to, not when I can wait five minutes for someone else to cover it, and I’ll use their story.

What the AP apparently has failed to do was learn from the New York Times’ mistake. What the NYT learned, painfully, I imagine, is that making people pay directly for content on the internet is a surefire loser. I don’t want to go out there and say this is fact, but I have a theory that the only internet content that probably does make money through premium, pay to see, content is porn.

Granted, what the AP is trying to do is not the exact same thing as the NYT, they’re requiring payment to use, not to read, but the general principle remains the same.

Outside of porn, the way to make money is through hosting advertising (and I suppose through selling merchandise if you have that good of a brand). Which is really where the AP is baffling.

Now, on an average day we get anywhere from 700 to 1200 unique visitors, give or take. That’s a tough number for me to pin down right now due largely to the rate of growth Comments is experiencing, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll call it in that range.

I LOVE it when I get links from other sites. I love being quoted, even if I’m taken out of context and called a moron. Why? Because it drives our uniques up which allows us to ask for more money from advertisers, and it increases the chance that more people will stick around and become regular readers.

Getting quoted and cited is great for business.

Likewise, when I reference an article, that means that our daily intake of 700-1200 readers are now exposed to that source. If I am pulling from the AP, that’s 700-1200 potential new customers they open themselves up to every day that I reference one of their articles.

And it’s important to note that A) We’re a relatively small blog, and B) There are literally THOUSANDS of other blogs out there, many with far bigger audiences than us.

So I simply just don’t get it. Why resist? By pissing off the blogosphere, the AP is essentially cutting itself off from a significant portion of the market.

The fatally flawed part of the AP’s thinking, though, is that they simply just don’t have that much leverage. If they were producing unique, vital, and well controlled content, then yeah, maybe. But even then, it’s only a maybe.

Yet that’s not the case. What the AP is selling can be gotten just about anywhere these days, and for free. So, if maintaining my boycott means I have to wait an extra five minutes every great once in a while to cover a story, well, I’ve suffered through worse.

One Response to “Five Minutes”

  1. Mark says:

    What the AP is doing here is beyond idiotic. It’s pretty clear that it’s being run by people who have no concept of how the internets and new media work. In a way, I’m sure they’re happy about the “boycott,” since it is giving them exactly what they wanted. What they don’t realize is that what they wanted will hurt them a heckuva lot more than it will help them, something that the blogosphere clearly realizes.

    And you’re right – it only takes about five minute for some other source to put up an AP story. Assuming that source actually paid for the rights to the story (which is true if the source is any “old media” site), then the AP has no control whatsoever over what happens to the material once it’s placed on that source’s website. Which means that the effect of the AP’s policy is just to ensure reduced traffic to its site and greater traffic to secondary party sites, thereby decreasing their own revenue, as you said. Meanwhile, the material the AP wanted to protect is still out there getting quoted in ways beyond the AP’s control. I suppose they could start to require the old media sites to not post AP articles on the internet, but good luck getting those sites to agree to that policy, which would be economic suicide for the old media, which is already struggling to compete.


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