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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Papers sideline agency with content-sharing deal

News agencies take note. A group of newspapers in Ohio have banded together to share content - three months after the group voiced opposition to US news agency AP's latest rates shake-up, says Editor & Publisher.

The content sharing arrangement comes several months after editors and publishers from six Ohio newspapers penned a December 21 letter to AP that claimed both new rates and news practices were unacceptable to them, declaring, "We pay nearly
$4 million annually to the AP. That's a hefty sum even during the best of times - and we all would certainly agree that these are not the best of times."
Editor & Publisher cites a staff memo, in which the newspaper chiefs say the idea of content sharing is "not about cutting back what we do".
"It is about sharing our content with the other large Ohio newspapers and getting their content in return," the memo adds. "The goal is to have stories that benefit the readers of all of our newspapers. A secondary benefit is that readers will know how much is produced by our newsrooms."
The sharing has apparently already begun, according to managing editor Alan D Miller of The Columbus Dispatch. He said his paper ran a story on B-3 today from The Plain Dealer of Cleveland about a Thursday speech by State Higher Education Chancellor Eric Fingerhut in Akron. The Dispatch website also linked to the Plain Dealer story.
He said it would have cost his paper time and resources to send a reporter to Akron, and noted that the AP version of coverage was not sent out until after midnight. "It is all about serving readers," Miller said of the sharing arrangement.
The papers have set up a private ftp site to share their content.