Tag Archives: Associated-Press

Another blogger war with the Evil MSM

Associated Press, a wire service I have grown to miss ever since my newspaper’s owner cut it off, has gotten into a kerfuffle with bloggers that’s making headlines everywhere.

The issue, simply put, is over how much bloggers can excerpt from an article before the quoting becomes reproducing. It’s an issue a lot of content producers struggle with because there are no hard-and-fast rules for fair use of other people’s content.

The problem, in this case, is that AP went too far, demanding excerpts as short as 35 words be deleted. That’s about two sentences, and just about any reasonable person would judge that to be an excerpt rather than a reproduction of an AP article (unless that article itself was only 35 words, and even then it would be debatable). From a web form that the AP has been using, it seems even five words from them would be considered infringing if not paid for.

Now AP is meeting with some self-appointed blogging representatives to hammer out some guidelines for bloggers. This is a good idea, but it cannot be used to restrict rights already given under fair use law. It can only provide additional rights of reproduction, and make suggestions to stay out of trouble.

But as much as I think AP’s position is silly in all this, the response from blogs like TechCrunch is ridiculous. A complete ban on referencing AP stories? A boycott? Please. Not only does this give AP exactly what it wants, does anyone seriously expect that a wide range of bloggers is going to not talk about a story just because AP broke it?

UPDATE: I have to admit, this is pretty funny.

Junk journalism is popular

Associated Press announced it is beefing up its celebrity news coverage by adding 21 reporters to the beat.

It might be easy to condemn AP for the move, since the wire service alone seems to affect more than half the news articles you see in your daily newspapers (The Gazette, which cut Canadian Press and therefore AP as well last summer, relies on Reuters, Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse, Sports Ticker, New York Times, LA Times/Washington Post and its own Canwest News Service for wire stories).

But the move is simply a reaction to the demands of AP’s members, who are increasingly demanding more celebrity gossip. Setting up a gossip news site is like opening a McDonald’s franchise: It’s embarrassing and unhealthy, but it’s an easy way to make money if you have no ideas.

I guess it’s also like porn that way, if you need a second analogy. But respectable organizations aren’t going to publish outright porn… yet.

Of course, AP says it isn’t out to do trash celebrity journalism, publishing pictures of people without makeup, digging through trash or just plain annoying people trying to go through their daily lives and pretending that’s news.

So I guess it’s more like opening a Subway franchise then. (Or Maxim/FHM, if you’re on the porn analogy route). You can pretend what you create is food, but you still can’t call yourself a chef.

To those of you who care about celebrity gossip, you have only yourselves to blame for this. There could be real journalists tackling real issues in the world, but instead they’re constantly monitoring the status of Britney Spears’s underwear.

AP needs more sleep

Apparently forgetting that correlation is not causation, Associated Press promotes a study that says more sleep leads to better performance in schools compared to all-night cram sessions the night before an exam.

It reaches this conclusion based on the fact that people who stay up all night have statistically better grades.

This is an uncontrolled study. Rather than take two randomly-selected students and have one stay up and the other go to bed, it asks people after the fact about their habits. While it shows a link between sleep and grades, it does not show that the lack of sleep while cramming causes a decrease in grades.

The study could be simply explained away by the fact that students who do poorly tend to procrastinate to the last minute and do all-night cramming. There’s no evidence that getting them to bed earlier would improve their grades, because nobody has actually tested for that.

AP (and the Globe) should know better than this. Comments attached to the Globe story pounced on it immediately. Why didn’t a journalist?

Google the wires

Speaking of wire services, Google News, which used to be an aggregator of news content with links to full articles on their original sites (and for some reason annoyed content owners who I guess don’t want traffic from the biggest website on Earth), has come to an agreement with Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Canadian Press and the U.K. Press Association to host wire stories on its site (as evidenced by that CP story hosted on Google).

The result of this is that when you see mention of “Canadian Press” or “Associated Press” in Google News results, that link will take you on a page at Google instead of some cheap generic small-market U.S. network TV affiliate who just republish unaltered wire copy online.

What it doesn’t mean is that you will be able to directly scroll the wires on Google. You still have to go through the Google News homepage. Fortunately there are other places that give you almost-direct access to unedited CP wire copy.

It probably won’t mean a huge deal, but you’ll note that wire copy on Google is much simpler and less ad-riddled than the places you’ll usually find it, which I think will lead to more people linking to stories off Google when given the choice.