Steve Boriss, a blogger who writes about the future of news, analyzes the Associated Press in a piece not destined to move on the wire.
One can quibble with his facts or his interpretation of the facts, but his main points are pretty much on the mark:
1) The AP system creates umpteen copies of the same story by major news organizations, Many voices with the same story instead of many voices about the same story. You see this most pronounced in doing a Google News search of a major national issue.
2) Members have a growing uneasiness about whether the AP is looking after their interests in the Internet Age.
The concerns are not new, as he notes in quoting E.W. Scripps: "I believe the most valuable service I have rendered to my country has been that of thwarting the plans of greater, abler, and richer men than myself to establish a monopoly of news in the United States, and hence a dominating influence over all the newspapers of the country."
I, however, don't agree with Boriss that all news begins as a daily cabal between New York Times and the Washington Post, and filters out to every news organization from there. News has a nasty habit of happening most anywhere, even those places where those two titans of journalism don't have reporters.
And despite AP's homogenizing power. I would argue that citizens have access to far more voices and far more diverse voices, like Pajamas Media where his piece appears, now than in any time in our country's history.
The ease and efficiency with which those voices can be published and read on the Internet is the true dilemma for the AP and its members. I think online most newspaper Web sites see limited traffic to AP national and international news content. It's been commodity content for quite some time, years before the Google deal.
It's just unclear to me whether it becomes less relevant for locally focused news organizations or more relevant in the drive to reduce costs by out-sourcing. We're entering one of those evolutionary times for the news service and I'm betting it survives.