Tribune-owned newspapers dropping AP

The Chicago Tribune has announced that starting in January, the Chicago-based paper and six other Tribune-owned papers will drop the Associated Press as its chief wire service.

Along with the Chicago newspaper, six other Tribune-owned papers will also drop their AP contracts. Those papers include the Baltimore Sun, the Orlando Sentinel, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Hartford Courant, the Morning Call of Allentown, PA, and the Daily Press of Newport News, VA. The Tribune’s Los Angeles Times is expected to continue with AP under a separate contract.

“We’re disappointed by this development but recognize this is a time of transition for these seven Tribune newspapers,” said Paul Colford, director of media relations for AP. “We hope they’ll return to AP as their circumstances change. AP continues to diversify its business to enhance the value of our newsgathering for our 1,400 member newspapers and other news organizations worldwide.

“The Los Angeles Times has indicated that it plans to stay with AP. The Times has been a great partner in innovation and developing new AP services for many years.”

The Tribune had already scaled back use of the AP through the use of Reuters' American wire content. Tribune CEO Sam Zell signaled his intentions to reduce reliance on AP services more than four years ago, when the contract was rumored to cost the Tribune company $9 million per year. Chicago media watcher Robert Feder says that switching to Reuters could save the Tribune as much as $5 million a year.

Television news channel CNN cancelled its AP service in 2010, also switching to Reuters. Then CNN president Jim Walton called the change, "an important next step in the content-ownership process … to more fully leverage CNN's global newsgathering investments,” Walton wrote. "Starting today, CNN newsgathering will be the primary source of all content for all of our platforms and services," he said. "The content we offer will be distinctive, compelling and, I am proud to say, our own."

Even so, many local TV stations continue to rely on AP’s ENPS news production service.

Producing news is expensive

The old gray lady, (New York Times) is also showing signs of having to cut news production costs. This month, Jill Abramson, executive editor of The Times, asked 30 non-union managers to accept buyout packages.

In an open letter to the staff, Abramson, said that the paper had been reducing as many newsroom expenses as possible, such as dropping leases on foreign and national bureaus. But simultaneously with those cuts, the Times hired additional editors in an attempt to increase its online competitiveness. The news staff grew to the same size it was in 2003 — about 1,150 people. “… the hard news is that the size of the newsroom staff must be reduced,” said Abramson.

Two weeks ago, the News Corp. shuttered its ambitious tablet newspaper, The Daily, after only two years.

"As part of a digital restructuring initiative, the company will cease standalone publication of The Daily iPad app on December 15, 2012, though the brand will live on in other channels,” said the company’s press release. “Technology and other assets from The Daily, including some staff, will be folded into The Post."

Media watchers said the less than two-year old electronic pub was losing $30 million a year. In July, the title laid off 50 people from its staff of 170.