Monday, October 18, 2010

The New Journalism, 2010

The Associated Press has made a momentous decision—and no, I don't mean it's going to settle that damned dispute with artist Shepard Fairey over his 2008 Obama poster.

I'm referring the news agency's plan to drop the time-honored term "Associated Press Writer" in favor of the label "Associated Press." It's a reckoning with the reality that these days news reports and images are, more and more often, being filed by the same person, just as photographs and video are more and more likely to made shot by the same person (with the same camera). The old distinctions between reporters and image makers can hold up to the modern demands for efficiency and the modern opportunities offered by technology. Below is the memo AP sent to its employees announcing the change.

After more than 80 years, we’re planning to retire the storied term “Associated Press Writer.”
Effective Oct. 26, our byline style for most writers will change from …
Associated Press Writer
… to the more platform-neutral:
Associated Press
These days, the byline on an AP story may rightfully belong to a text reporter, a photographer, a videographer or a radio reporter. For instance, photographer Aijaz Rahi bylined our coverage of a recent plane crash in India. Videographer Rich Matthews had his byline on Gulf oil spill stories. Some of our staffers have extensive multimedia skills and work with several platforms every day. Saying simply “Associated Press” focuses on the important thing: that the material is from an Associated Press journalist.
Many newspapers and websites already change “Associated Press Writer” to “Associated Press,” or simply use the AP logo. We already use the signoff “Associated Press” on radio and video reports.
The change will not affect special bylines like “AP Political Writer,” “AP Military Writer,” “AP Sports Writer,” “AP Business Writer” and others. When we say in a note at the end of a story that several people contributed to the reporting, we can still specify when useful that someone is a photographer, video journalist, etc. The underline “For The Associated Press” remains available for those situations that require it.
We will make this change effective after a series of advisories. Elvis and Reporters Workbench templates will be updated to reflect it.
The earliest example of “Associated Press Writer” that our archivists can find is from August 1927.  It was initially used for sports writers. The term was then more generally adopted, starting in 1928, as “Associated Press Staff Writer.”  By the start of 1929, “Associated Press Writer” was in general use.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Tom Kent, Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production.

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