AP Copies Google: "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em"

Last Updated Nov 21, 2009 11:52 AM EST

In what I must admit is a shocking turn of events, the Associated Press has moved byond attacking Google and others it has branded as content "thieves" to embrace a page from its opponents' playbook.

Literally.

In an internal AP memo obtained by Talking Points Memo, a senior managing editor, Mike Oreskes, states that when two AP reporters found that one bookstore had inadvertently placed Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue" on sale five days before the official release date, "They bought a copy, ripped it from its spine and scanned it into the system so it could be read and electronically searched. A [wire story] moved within 40 minutes, followed quickly by multiple leads as details were gleaned from the 413-page manuscript."

Wow.

First of all, kudos to the AP.

At a time when the wire service also has been laying off scores of staffers, it also is acting like it is a news-gathering organization for the 21st Century.

But, when you think about it, isn't this rather similar to the type of copyright violation that the AP, and print publishers generally, have been screaming about so loudly all year long?

I put this question to Paul Colford, AP's Director of Media Relations, who told me via email:

"The book, purchased several days ahead of its on-sale date by the AP, was scanned after the first spot stories moved on the wire from New York so that staffers in bureaus in Washington and Alaska with knowledge of various parts of Gov. Palin's life and political career could read those relevant sections the next day. This led to the AP's Fact Check of the book last Friday (Nov. 13).

"The book for was not scanned for public consumption."

I'll repeat what I said earlier: Kudos to the AP. No problem here at all with what they did. Keep doing this kind of creative reporting, as opposed to blaming Google and the aggregators for your problems, and you'll win a lot of us back to your side.

Related Bnet Media coverage of the AP:
AP: We Have Good News Too
Bankrupt Tribune Co. Experiments Going "AP-Free"
The AP's Latest Flabbergasting Idea
The Good Old AP Does It Again
Note to AP, Media: Bloggers/Search Engines R Your Best Friends
Hey AP: Take This Test
AP's Top News Stories for August 5th, in Four Words Or Less
Top AP Business/Tech Stories for August 4th (in 4 Words or Less)
AP's Biz Model is Just a Four-letter Word
Someone, Quick, Place the AP on Suicide Watch
The AP, Publishers, Battle an Imaginary Army of Pirates
  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital, Salon.com, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.

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