The benefit of worldwide coverage

Newspapers root the tree of global news.


The traditional daily provides articles from all over, supplied by a wire service.

Before the internet, before radio, before TV, the daily was the only purveyor of news from away. The demand for it was so great and the cost of providing it so high that newspapers joined together to form the not-for-profit news cooperative called The Associated Press. Together, the papers shared the cost of gathering news from afar.

They still do, today.

“… AP staff in 280 locations in more than 100 countries deliver breaking news that is seen or read by half the world’s population on any given day. It remains a not-for-profit cooperative, owned by 1,500 U.S. newspapers, which are both its customers and its members. …” —

There are other wire services, of course. Large newspaper chains, in fact, have their own. But the AP remains a unique model, a worldwide circulation system for news, supported and run by its members. Its staff of experienced reporters and editors gather and write original stories about the region they’re covering, and they also help member newspapers share their own stories with each other.

“For more than a century and a half, men and women of The Associated Press have had the privilege of bringing truth to the world. They have gone to great lengths, overcome great obstacles – and, too often, made great and horrific sacrifices – to ensure that the news was reported quickly, accurately and honestly. Our efforts have been rewarded with trust: More people in more places get their news from the AP than from any other source. …” —

My first news job was as a part-time file clerk at the AP’s Northern New England bureau. To this day, just the thought of lifting the cover of an AP bureau directory throws me into a reverie. Tracing one’s finger down the names of foreign locales where, should one be brave enough to venture forth, one would find a fellow AP staffer — what a network! All the way around the world.

You can have Facebook. I’ll take the AP.

“… There are only two forces that can carry light to all the corners of the globe — only two — the sun in the heavens and the Associated Press down here. …” — Mark Twain (The New York Times via

In February, I heard an international expert on media economics address a gathering of New England newspaper reporters, editors and publishers. He told them that the print newspaper business model wasn’t broken. He said it could still return a decent profit — if they concentrated on providing local news that their subscribers could not easily obtain elsewhere. That being so, he added, he couldn’t see the need for wire service copy anymore, given the ready availability of that kind of content on the net.

I wanted to stand up and shout, “No!” (Remarkably, I restrained myself.)

I hope daily publishers don’t take that piece of advice. The AP only exists because its member newspapers need it and want it, but its benefits go way beyond their circulation area. The AP’s benefits extend around the earth.

Without our dailies, I fear for our nation. Without the AP, I fear for our world.

Author: TAM

For more about me, please visit

2 thoughts on “The benefit of worldwide coverage”

  1. I don’t think Facebook is competing with the AP. They’re serving two different purposes. The AP gathers and disseminates news worldwide and everyone who’s an AP member can pick it up and run it in their newspapers. Which, by its own rules, restricts it to paying members—those who can afford it. Facebook provides a free platform for people to create a community around themselves, and to communicate with one another. There are some Facebook groups that do provide community service in that they disseminate OPINIONS about local businesses, etc., which comes with its own set of benefits and detriments. (Truly, caveat emptor when reading anything on Facebook or, for that matter, on the internet and in newspapers). And yes, I could see the argument that Facebook competes with local papers in that it provides “news” that’s unattributed and crowd-sourced, arguably the most dangerous kind—but still, at times, extremely useful to people in a community. For instance, where I live, I’m a member of the town Facebook page. I’ve seen it used horribly, and I’ve also seen it used to quickly rally people around someone who was in dire need of help after being burned out of their home, and also provide timely info such as, “Does anybody know a good dentist in town who can help me with an emergency problem I have?” There’s a lot to not like about Facebook, for sure. But I think it’s dangerous for newspapers—especially local newspapers—to avoid accepting that aspect of their own community. It’s here to stay, for now at least, and it is a captive audience to some extent. Seems to me it’s better to work with it than against it.


    1. Very valid points, and thus I am chastened for my lighthearted remark (“You can have Facebook. I’ll take the AP.”). The AP has a Facebook page too– Thanks for the comment.


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