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McClatchy, Gannett to stop using Associated Press news reports

The not-for-profit AP said the decision by two major newspaper publications will not materially impact their revenue.

The not-for-profit AP said the decision by two major newspaper publications will not materially impact their revenue.

The front of the Sacramento Bee’s headquarters in Sacramento, California. (Photo: Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr Creative Commons)

Two of America’s largest newspaper chains will stop using news reports and photographs from the Associated Press (AP) in an effort to cut down on expenses.

The move will see Gannett Company and McClatchy Company publish less national news reporting in their papers and associated websites, with both companies choosing instead to syndicate select reporting from publications under their ownership or control.

Gannett, the largest private newspaper owner in the country, said it will stop publishing AP-distributed stories and photographs starting on March 25. The company will continue to use AP’s election-related data and adhere to the often-changing AP StyleBook in its newsrooms.

“Between USA Today and our incredible network of more than 200 newsrooms, we create more journalism every day than the AP,” Kristin Roberts, the Chief Content Officer at Gannett, wrote in a memo circulated to newsroom employees.

A spokesperson for Gannett said the move would help the newspaper chain “invest further in our newsrooms,” though they offered no additional details. Gannett will eventually start publishing international news, photos and videos from Reuters once the AP relationship winds down.

“We are shocked and disappointed to see this memo,” a spokesperson for the AP said after the New York Times published excerpts from the document, which was later obtained separately by the AP and The Desk. “Our conversations with Gannett have been productive and ongoing; we remain hopeful that 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.”

In a story on the matter, an AP reporter said Gannett’s decision would have “represented a financial earthquake” for the news cooperative, which operates as a not-for-profit. But, today, the AP has “diversified its services with the decline of newspapers,” the reporter wrote, taking a shot at the newspaper industry by large.

Today, revenue generated from fees charged to newspapers account for slightly more than 10 percent of the AP’s overall income, the news cooperative said.

Separately, executives at Sacramento-based McClatchy said it would also stop using AP news reports and multimedia in its newspapers and online over the coming weeks. McClatchy operates some of the industry’s most-recognizable newspapers, including the Kansas City Star, the Miami Herald and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. McClatchy has been owned by National Enquirer parent company Chatham Asset Management since 2020.

“With this decision, we will no longer pay millions for content that serves less than 1 percent of our readers,” Kathy Vetter, McClatchy’s Senior Vice President of News and Audience, said in an email that was first obtained by the New York Times.

“In most cases we have found replacements,” Vetter said. “However, we are still working on a universal solution for state wires content.”

Responding to McClatchy’s decision to also drop its relationship with AP, a spokesperson for the news cooperative said it would be “a disservice to news consumers across the U.S. who would no longer see ‘fact-based journalism’ from the AP.”

The AP operates numerous data pipelines that provide local and national outlets with reliable information about voter turnout and who is leading a particular local, state or national race. But, like other news outlets, the tone of AP’s news coverage has grown more partisan over the past decade as news consumers gravitate toward their own social and political “silos.”

With trust in news platforms at an all-time low, news outlets have increasingly turned to e-commerce as a way to supplement lost revenue from advertising and subscriptions. Last week, Axois reported the AP was franchising that same idea, launching an e-commerce platform called “Buyline” in partnership with Taboola that will sell consumer goods and services through the AP’s website and news apps.

Content published through Buyline — a play on the word “byline” — will be written by employees at Taboola, who will work in partnership with the AP to ensure the marketing materials adhere to some of the AP’s styles and ethics. The vertical is being tested with product reviews involving personal finance, including credit cards, before a broader rollout that will include household, beauty and fashion items.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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