AP Chief Upbeat About Newspapers p. 12

By: Dorothy Giobbe

Associated Press president and CEO Louis Boccardi
delivers his annual address to the AP membership sp.

ASSOCIATED PRESS PRESIDENT and CEO Louis Boccardi believes that, despite challenges such as slipping readership and newsprint price hikes, the newspaper industry has much to look forward to in the coming year.
Boccardi, in his annual address to the AP membership last week in New Orleans, offered an update on current operations of the news service, as well as a glimpse of things to come.
Boccardi noted that AP’s revenue in 1994 reached $371.5 million, up from $355 million in 1993. He said debt was “virtually erased” during the year, but went back up to $10 million in the last quarter due to investment in new businesses.
Boccardi noted, however, that three years ago, AP’s debt totaled $41 million.
The cooperative’s operating expenses increased in 1994 by $30.3 million, or 8.6%. AP attributed the increase to the start-up costs of APTV, its new international video news service, and costs associated with AP AdSEND, its new digital ad delivery service.
“Budget discipline remains central,” Boccardi told AP members. “The cooperative finished 1994 within one-tenth of one percent of budget, a sign of how carefully we manage the cooperative’s money.”
The CEO brought members up to speed on the progress of various AP projects, which together, he said, made 1994 an “exciting” year.
AP Basic, the new high-speed wire for smaller newspapers, is currently operating with 370 members and is getting “rave reviews,” according to Boccardi.
“We think, in fact, that 1995 will see the end of AP slow-speed transmissions,” he said.
AP AdSEND is fully functional and is currently delivering digital. Boccardi said advertisers had begun to use the service, and they “tell us they welcome the new ease and reliability AdSEND provides.”
Additions made to AP’s line bureau staffs will continue this year, Boccardi promised. Meanwhile, member assessment increases shall remain “at or near the rate of inflation.”
Noting that AP won two Pulitzer Prizes this year, Boccardi stressed that the organization would continually strive to refine reporting and writing.
“We want to make it impossible for anybody to disparage anything we do, with the old insult that it’s just ‘wire service journalism,’ ” he said.
Boccardi also announced some policy changes regarding the use of AP copy in member databases.
Current AP policy provides for use, over six months, of AP material in members’ online databases without charge. Boccardi said the period of free use had been extended to two years.
Also, members can use as much AP news as they wish in their own online projects, Boccardi said.
None of those changes affects products that AP specifically tailors for online use, such as the AP Online Wire, which will continue to be available to members for an additional charge, Boccardi added.
Grand Central Stocks is AP’s new stock-table service. It organizes raw data into page templates, which allows for automatic pagination for market pages.
Boccardi said the service is now working at 110 papers, and he expects that figure to increase to about 200 by the end of this year.
The development of a central AP electronic photo archive continues. About 100,000 images will be added to the database this year, Boccardi reported, including about 40,000 historical photos.
Within three years, the archive should have about 300,000 to 400,000 photos stored.
?(Louis Boccardi) [Photo]

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