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The AP Wants You to Want Them More Than Wikipedia

A couple of weeks ago the AP made waves when it announced that, having had it up to here(!) with people using their content for free, it was going to begin tracking its content on the Web to “to assure compliance with terms of use.” After which they spent some time trying to clear up the misconception that they’d gone a little batty.

Now the folks at Neiman Journalism Lab have got their hands on a document labeled “AP CONFIDENTIAL — NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION” that details how the wire plans to make itself and its content relevant in the the new, over-sharing online world. NJL has a great detailed explanation of the paper (they will be discussing in segments today), but here is the short version of the part that appears to be getting people’s attention thus far: The AP is going to make people come to them for certain original content.

“So a headline item that says, ‘Mid-air collision outside of New York and tourists die,’ let’s say. You can imagine, in the New York area, there are lots of media covering that story.” The AP would treat that content as it always has, putting it on the wire for members and customers to publish on their own sites. But other pieces of content — say, an infographic or a sidebar documenting the history of similar collisions — would be held off the wire and published only on a central AP site, Kasi said.

The plain-vanilla wire story, meanwhile, would point to the more in-depth material in the form of a link. He explained: “We have unique pieces of data, maybe, or we have a unique visual narrative, a graphic. We have unique photos, a photo gallery, and so on. How can you use some pieces of content to drive traffic to other pieces of content? That’s really what’s being addressed here.”

Adds NJL: “The AP would essentially be relying on its vast network of members to provide search engine optimization for its most unique content.” Sounds smart right. Or at least it sounds like one of the smarter ideas to come out of an old-school media organization who has found its main service made mostly irrelevant by the “link economy” that fuels the Web. So we will wait and see. If the AP actually manages to “create topic pages around news stories to rival Wikipedia and major aggregation sites.

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