When you need news, there is only one place to turn – the Associated Press. This is especially true if you are a news outlet reporting on foreign affairs. Increasingly, news outlets are relying on the Associated Press to find and report on international stories. Very few media centers even send reports to cover events overseas. They rely on news wires such as Reuters and the Associated Press, with AP holding the bulk of the responsibility.
What is the Associated Press?
The Associated Press is the largest and oldest news organization in the world. Founded in 1846, the Associated Press is a cooperative run by an elected board of directors. Founded in the United States, the Associated Press today has more than 240 international bureaus. The Associated Press seeks out and provides balanced and timely news reports, articles, video and photographs. On any given day, more than half of the world’s population reads, see, or hears material originating from the Associated Press.
What does the Associated Press do?
The majority of the Associated Press employees are journalists. A full 75% of all those associated with AP go out into the world to find, compile and report the news in one form or another. The Associated Press includes photo and video journalists, print journalists, television journalists and radio commentators. All of these seek out breaking news to share in four languages in 121 countries.
The Associated Press is known for balanced and fair reporting. There have been few scandals over the years pertaining to sources or retractions, such as the current discussion regarding the police captain, Jamil Hussein, but in the world of fast-moving media, this is to be expected.
Associated Press Sports
The Associated Press has a special place in the hearts of United States sports fans as well. The Associated Press is responsible for ranking the top 25 NCAA college football teams as well as Division 1 basketball teams – both men’s and women’s. For years, the football rankings of many AP sports journalists would help determine bowl game participants. But the Associated Press asked for the poll to be removed from the consideration as it reflected a conflict of interest.
Associated Press Television
The Associated Press also has a television station. In 1994, Associated Press Television (APTV) was started in London. It was successful at delivering agency news materials to other television stations. In 1998, the APTV merged with another large wire-based television station, Worldwide Television News (WTN), and moved into the WTN building in London. APTV continues to be a large and powerful player in televised news reporting.
The Power of the Associated Press
The Associated Press is one of the few major English language wire agencies in the world. What used to be a large number of reporting agencies has condensed into a total of three which are notable world-wide. The Associated Press is the largest, followed by Reuters based in the UK and the English Language division of Agence France-Presse.
The internet has caused a tremendous boom in media. Major websites such as AOL, Yahoo, and Google all share breaking news stories from around the globe with readers and searchers. Despite their immense budgets and size, it is not practical or even realistic to send a reporter out to cover international events. Instead, these major websites, along with countless other sites, subscribe to the Associated Press and use their news stories.
The Associated Press newswires are also used by most newspapers and major media outlets such as CNN and Fox news. With the rush to get news available to the public, many Associated Press news stories are being pulled directly from the wire and only very slightly modified before being released through these outlets. Increasingly, even the largest news agencies are electing not to send their own journalists to the hot spots of the world, but rather use the plentiful stories continuously supplied by the Associated Press. The same can be said for Reuters and Agence France-Presse stories, but to a lesser degree.
By forgoing or limiting any competing coverage, the Associated Press exists at an almost exclusive status in journalism anywhere in the world. While this is a terrific boon for the Associated Press, and other large agencies, it could lead to what boils down to a monopoly in news as well as a deterioration of news reporting over all – not because AP journalists aren’t doing a quality job, but because there is no competition to push them to dig deeper and improve over time.