You can see the details here and here, but the nut graf is that the AP is considering putting its online content behind a pay wall, and requiring news orgs that use its content to do the same. Leaving aside the predictable discussion/rant (news “wants” to be free) there are at least two immediate practical results of such a move:
1. Many small newspapers would have to drop AP content online, further cutting the organization’s shrinking profit margins. The Missourian is among a fair number of small newspapers without an e-commerce site, and so we and other small newspapers couldn’t force people to pay for AP content. (We pay extra for our online content under our existing contract, which also has stiff penalties for canceling — yay.)
2. Competitors would rush in to fill the void — CNN is considering launching a wire service, and Reuters, Bloomberg, et al have to be salivating at this prospect.
I hate to sound negative, but IMO this is just more proof that the AP doesn’t understand the economics of online news consumption. I’m all for content being behind a pay wall, as long as it’s content worth paying for. No offense to the AP, but 95 percent of their content is commodity news and can be replaced instantly by any other wire service.