Australian Associated Press to close in June

Australian Associated Press is closing after 85 years of providing newswire, sub-editing and photography services to media companies and consumers across the country. The decision impacts 180 journalists at the company.

Editor in chief Tony Gillies confirmed the news on Twitter, calling it the “saddest day” after CEO Bruce Davidson addressed staff at 2pm. The newswire’s last day will be 26 June, with subediting service Pagemasters also to close in August. Press release distribution service Medianet and media intelligence company Mediaverse will be sold.

“We have had a place like no other in journalism. We exist for the public’s interest and I now fear for the void left by the absence of AAP’s strong, well-considered voice,” Gillies added in a statement.

The business isn’t viable anymore, the company said, but promised there will be job opportunities for those affected as the likes of News Corp and Nine invest further in their own news teams to deal with the absence of AAP content moving forward.

Davidson called the news “tragic”, and paid tribute to the many people who have worked at AAP since 1935.

“Hundreds of wonderful journalists made their start at AAP and went on to brilliant careers. Many others chose to stay with the agency for several decades and are part of the revered ‘AAP family’,” the CEO said.

“Many more amazing people have been part of the fabric of the company in critical support and management roles.

“I want to thank all of them for their service and contribution to Australian journalism over many years.

“Our reporters, photographers, videographers and production staff are second to none. They have been leading the country in breaking news for decades and showed the way for publishers in terms of the 24-hour news cycle.”

Chair Campbell Reid, who is also News Corp’s group executive of corporate affairs, policy and government relations, added that AAP has served as “journalism’s first responder” for decades.

“It is a great loss that professional and researched information provided by AAP is being substituted with the un-researched and often inaccurate information that masquerades as real news on the digital platforms,” Reid said.

“The number of organisations choosing to no longer rely on the AAP service has made the business unsustainable.”

The announcement follows The Sydney Morning Herald revealing this week that the entirety of AAP’s editorial operations were likely to be shuttered.

Newspaper publishers Nine, News Corp, The West Australian and Australian Associated Press own AAP, which provides media companies who subscribe with news reporting through AAP Newswire, sub-editing service Pagemasters, photography via AAP Photos and press release distribution service Medianet.

According to Sydney Morning Herald reporting, Nine spends around $5m a year on the service, and News Corp, which owns 45% of AAP, around $10m. Following its merger with Fairfax Media, Nine brought its sub-editing in house, ending its outsourcing relationship with Pagemasters.

The likes of SBS and Guardian Australia pay smaller subscription fees for the AAP services.

The industry responded with overwhelming support for its newswire colleagues amid speculation of its closure, sharing a digital sign that reads ‘We need the AAP newswire’, printing out the message for a photograph in solidarity, and causing #saveAAP to trend number one on Twitter in Australia.

Union members at the AAP thanked colleagues for their support, with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) tweeting a message that read: “MEAA members at Australian Associated Press thank media colleagues and those from outside the industry for their messages of support following an article written about the company’s future.

“It is heartening to know the levels of appreciation for AAP’s work … Now more than ever, an independent, non-partisan newswire is vital in an increasingly fractured media landscape.”

In response to the news the company would indeed be closing, MEAA pointed to the huge gap in coverage media companies will now have to attempt to fill.

“Look at the news stories, the photos, the coverage, the quotes and the enormous spectrum of excellent journalism that AAP has supplied over the past 85 years. AAP delivers news, photos and sub-editing services that the major media groups either cannot or will not,” MEAA Media federal president Marcus Strom said.

“Beancounters at the top of media organisations might think they can soldier on without AAP, but the reality is it will leave a huge hole in news coverage. Filling those holes will fall to already overburdened newsroom journalists. Or coverage will simply cease to occur.

“AAP has also trained generations of journalists and has been an excellent start for many of Australia’s top journalists. It is reckless and short-sighted of media bosses to jettison this wonderful media institution.”


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