Friday, August 21, 2009

I want a newspaper that DOESN'T include AP content

The Associated Press Building in New York City...Image via Wikipedia

For those that haven't heard, the Associated Press (AP) is trying to add digital rights management (DRM) to its syndicated news content because its tired of the bloggerati and spam sites making money off its hard earned journalistic products. Setting aside the fact that this absolutely, positively won't work, it also misses a key point about the AP that I think has been missed in the coverage of this brewing fiasco: I don't want AP content from my newspaper or news Web sites.

AP content is a product of a bygone era, when I had to consume my print news from a single (or, at least very few) source: The local paper. The AP's coverage of foreign and national events saved my favorite newsrag the time and expense of maintaining a bureau or freelancer contact in every major city on Earth. It also had the side effect of every major paper carrying essentially the same story, though few people noticed it because most of us read our local paper almost exclusively.

I don't have a single text news source any more. My RSS reader is crowded with dozens of news mastheads, and those sources cull from dozens or even hundreds of other sources. The problem: Those news "sources" are riddled with duplicate content because most of them run the same freakin' AP stories!

To show you how pointless the AP business model has become in the modern era, choose a single game in a non-tournament sporting event. Say, yesterday's Red Sox/Blue Jays game. Check the story on CNN, ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, and Sporting News. It's precisely the same story, dressed up in each respective site's drag (though Fox Sports gets points for pulling in local paper content ahead or alongside AP stuff). If I subscribed to each site's baseball feed, I'd get the same story almost word-for-word five times.

What I want is a newsfeed that filters out all this duplicate AP stuff. If I read the AP story once, I'm good. What I want are different perspectives (which blogs give, though usually absent the on-the-scene authority of a beat reporter) on the same story. As a devoted Louisville Cardinal fan, I want not only the AP and local paper's perspective on UofL games, but the opposing team's paper's perspective on the game, as well as that of national columnists and analysts.

I've tried hacking together just such a filter using Yahoo pipes, one that goes through every local Big East paper's Louisville content and one that hits the major sports Web sites' college basketball pages, trying to block out the AP content which I know will be endlessly duplicated. The results are kludgy, mostly because there's no simple, universal way of noting AP content. (I'm left with keyword filters, so other teams from Louisville or other schools with Cardinal mascots creep in.) Thankfully, once the AP's DRM kicks in, I'll have a nice, simple way to screen out all the endlessly duplicated AP clone-stories from my feeds and get the actual analysis and opinion about the sports -- and other subjects -- I truly care about.

Thanks, AP, for conveniently engineering yourself out of my consciousness. I can't wait until you've built your own future demise.

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1 comment:

  1. Awesome!
    The law of unintended consequences has at a bad business model again. I hadn't imagined that the AP could actually make itself useful, but you seem to have discovered a way.