CNN has dropped the Associated Press picture agency in a move which may have ramifications across the rest of the broadcast news industry. The AP, with Reuters, provide the backbone of breaking news and event coverage for all broadcasters interested in international news. There are three things going on here:
- basic costs. CNN dropped Reuters three years ago on cost grounds and reinvested part of what they saved in their own newsgathering. They say they will do the same here. (Although CNN have since renewed a partnership with Reuters for breaking news).
- Which allows them to develop more distinctive and original journalism of their own, hopefully distinguishing themselves from other news networks through entrepreneurial journalism
- which they are free to exploit across multi-media platforms without paying an additional premium to the agencies every time they want to launch a new online or mobile service.
Costs, increasing original content, control over rights.
"It is important for CNN to continue to grow," Jim Walton , president of CNN Worldwide, told the Financial Times. "In this day and age of aggregation, we felt that we wanted to continue to push our own distinct reporting. We made a decision we would invest in ourselves."
This ought to be a great time for the agencies as costs force news organisations to cut their own international news operations they should be more dependant on AP and Reuters. But it seems CNN are drawing a line on agency costs and making the strategic move to produce and exploit their own material more.
They also announced "CNN Share" - an internal operation to move their own material around the CNN operation more effectively. News Corporation recently announced something similar.
(Investing in original and distinctive journalism and exploiting and sharing your own material across programmes and platforms better. The BBC once had a News Director who argued for both those things about 7 years ago. Who was that guy?)