AP President Urges Innovations in Delivery of Traditional News

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Consumers are seeking more news content than ever, and newspapers can serve that demand if they find new delivery routes to reach audiences, Associated Press President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Curley told Texas news executives Monday.

It’s crucial to go where the news users are and fit content and interactivity to the screen they are using, Curley said.

“The old vehicles are not dead yet, but they need updating,” he said.

Curley, speaking to the Texas Daily Newspaper Association annual convention in Austin, noted that the AP recently announced a deal to put news on the Nintendo Wii. He called that “a big stretch from the front page of the daily newspaper.”

“My strongest criticism is that we all are in need of a lift, say 10 or 20,000 feet higher, to see a bigger picture of opportunity. The news markets are growing, if we are willing to adjust to the new usage patterns,” Curley said.

News providers should emphasize content about today and tomorrow, focusing less on yesterday, he said. And they should recognize that consumers ? faced with an expanding range of information options — are crying out for editors to help them access news content and provide critical perspective, he said.

Curley pointed out that a number of media companies are aggressively expanding into new storytelling formats, such as video, but he said traditional media have fallen short in seeking similar innovation in advertising.

There are opportunities to reach more consumers through advertising via new technology, as consumers are already connected through broadband, cell phones or other devices, he said.

The 2008 presidential election will be video-driven, online and interactive, he said, and the news industry can’t get stuck in the 20th century mode of news delivery.

Curley gave an overview of new services the AP has launched and said later this year it will announce software services to track news content as it moves through the digital world. That would allow newspapers to see who is accessing their content. Another coming AP service is a search application for video.

Curley thanked the Texas newspaper executives for their past work on open government with Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who was Texas attorney general before he was elected to the Senate.

Now, along with Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Cornyn is involved in efforts to update the federal Freedom of Information Act for the first time in 40 years, Curley said.

Under existing law, the act has no enforcement provisions, but the revised act would provide incentives for government agencies to respond to requests for information made under the act.

Curley also provided an update on AP’s coverage of the war in Iraq. The AP has more than 100 employees in Iraq and has lost four people associated with its war coverage, he said.

This year likely will be one that decides the fate of the Middle East for years to come, Curley said.

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