OLD Media Moves

AP deal with Internet provider means weak stories get filed

February 15, 2010

Ryan Tate of Gawker reports Monday that the Associated Press has a deal with an Internet site that requires it to file a certain number of business news stories per day to be posted on the site, meaning weak content gets written when the news cycle is slow.

Tate reports, “AP’s contract with at least one major internet client obliges the business desk to hit a specific quota of daily stories, in the range of ‘several hundred,’ according to one insider. Staffers find this target all the more ‘ridiculous’ and ‘a constant source of misery,’ the source said, because the quota has not changed since AP laid off 10 percent of its staff last year.

“Apparently AP journalists can’t be given individual quotas under their union contract. But that doesn’t keep editors from making everyone aware of their collective obligation, especially when they fall behind, which we’re told ‘is often.’

“The upshot is a torrent of crappy articles:

Often there just isn’t enough news in the day to fill the quota. This is especially true during the summer when corporate announcements drop off. At these times, we scrape the bottom of the barrel by writing up two-line filler stories based on information nobody cares about. Sometimes the info is days old, even a week old. We produce a large number of worthless stories just to fill our quota.”

Read more here.

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