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Tribune Company (Mostly) Ditching AP For A Week

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Nov 3, 2009 3:40PM

2009_11_03_AP.jpg The Tribune Company - which includes the L.A. Times, the Baltimore Sun, and our own beloved Chicago Tribune - is preparing for a potential separation from the Associated Press by sleeping on the couch and (for the most part) going without AP content for a week starting this Sunday, November 8. The AP itself is still shaking out how it'll charge for content, including possibly offering stories to some outlets earlier than others for a higher price. The TribCo gave the AP a head's up last October that come October 2010, they may ditch the AP completely. Next week's trial separation will give the company an idea of how life without the AP might be. Of course, the separation won't be complete. The Trib's Phil Rosenthal reports that there will still be a bit of AP content, limited to sports stats and the occasion when the AP is the only source of a "vital" story. Also, TribCo TV station and newspaper websites won't be affected by the trial separation.

So where will the TribCo publications pull content from as necessary? Rosenthal explains:

Besides the content provided by the staff of its own titles, Tribune Co. newspapers will draw from such news sources as Reuters, the Washington Post, New York Times, Agence France Presse, Cable News Network, Global Post, Bloomberg and McClatchy newspapers during its AP-less trial. Not all of those sources are normally available to Tribune Co. papers.

The AP's new structures - charging for non-breaking content in addition to paying for breaking content - was met with resistance by many papers and the AP has also feuded with Google. While there are plenty of other sources from which the TribCo papers can pull content - as well as the large amount of sharing that already goes on between TribCo papers - it would seem like the company should survive. But with papers already getting smaller - literally and figuratively - the experiment could prove telling, especially in the wake of the formation of the Chicago News Cooperative, the group largely made up of former Trib editors who continue to woo current Trib writers, and will provide Chicago-centric content for the new Chicago edition of the New York Times.