CNN signs AP deal for first time in 14 years

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CNN has signed a deal with the Associated Press to use the news wire’s content online.

A CNN spokesperson told Puck News the move is meant to help free up staffers to produce more original, longform and investigative reporting. The representative denied that the AP contract is a signal that job cuts are coming.

“This allows our writers to spend more time on enterprise reporting and less time on quick writes,” the spokesperson is quoted as saying.

The ratings-challenged network, which brought in former BBC executive Mark Thompson as CEO after Chris Licht crashed and burned from the top spot at the network, has already seen job cuts in recent years.

Thompson himself has hinted that further cost-cutting measures are coming, though it’s not clear what types he’s referring to; but it’s well known that one of broadcasting’s biggest ongoing expenses is payroll. 

CNN last used the AP in 2010, when it opted to drop the service in order to produce more of its own original content, including writing its own text versions of national and international news stories.

Writing original content on widely covered news stories has both pros and cons.

On the plus side, original stories can help content stand out from the sea of other websites posting wire copy. While this isn’t necessarily something users are as likely to notice, it could play a factor in how search tools and other platforms send traffic to a site, with many of these types of services having algorithms that favor original content over repeats.

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Reporters from each organization can also add unique context and analysis to the news of the day, often drawing on their own sources or resources to bring in fresh perspectives. 

However, reporting on the same national and international stories as most other news outlets could also be seen as duplicative, which is one of the reasons wire services were created in the first place. Not only does it require a reporter to gather facts, conduct interviews and write the story, but there’s an entire workflow of supporting staffers that are still required, such as copy editors. 

CNN’s argument that it could realign staffers to focus on more enterprise-type assignments is largely valid, especially when looked at from a pure numbers perspective. This type of approach would still largely rely on a similar infrastructure as spot reporting and could free up reporters to work on developing truly unique content, which ultimately could end up benefiting the organization better in terms of traffic, reach and, ultimately, ad revenue.

AP contracts typically permit news agencies to edit and add content to its reporting, so CNN could still find ways to blend in unique takes on the news.

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