Big Meeting of Newspapers on New CNN Wire Coming This Week

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By: E&P Staff

E&P broke the story several weeks. Finally, this week, a much-anticipated meeting will hear about CNN’s plans to launch a wire service that may compete with, and supplement, existing Associated Press offerings.

The New York Times reports some details on Monday. Here is an excerpt from the article by Tim Arango and Richard Perez-Pena. New York magazine at its Intel web page wonders why AP would be so concerned, since CNN has only 10 correspondents with “laptops” (they joke), but points that maybe Anderson Cooper’s baby blue eyes do pose a threat….
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For nearly a month, a trial version of CNN?s wire service has been on display in some newspapers. But this week editors from about 30 papers will visit Atlanta to hear CNN?s plans to broaden a service to provide coverage of big national and international events ? and maybe local ones ? on a smaller scale and at a lower cost than The A.P.

?The reality is we don?t have a lot of relationships with newspapers,? said Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide. ?We have relationships with TV stations around the world.? Mr. Walton said the meeting this week, which CNN has billed the ?CNN Newspaper Summit,? is ?kind of a get-to-know-you.?

With its CNN Wire, the company is going up against the largest news-gathering operation in the world in The A.P., and it must convince editors that it can offer something that is well outside its broadcast expertise ? which may not be a tough task given the dire circumstances newspapers face. In addition, a number of newspapers are unhappy with the cost of The A.P., a nonprofit corporation that is owned by the 1,400 papers that are its members. Some newspapers have even given notice that they intend to leave The A.P.

?I?m very interested in hearing what they have to present,? said Benjamin J. Marrison, the editor of The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio, which is among the papers that have said they will drop The A.P. because of its cost. ?It has a lot of potential. We just need to understand it better.?….

The project has several implications for the news business.

For CNN it amounts to another expansion of its operations at a time of severe cutbacks across the media industry, especially at newspapers, which are facing the wrenching circumstances of both a faltering economy and the continuing flight of advertising dollars out of print and onto the Internet. And for The Associated Press, it represents a competitive threat, while some client newspapers already are leaving the service because of financial pressure. (CNN Wire would also compete with other services, like Bloomberg News and Thomson Reuters.)

On Nov. 20, Tom Curley, the president and chief executive of The A.P., spoke to employees in New York City and by Webcast to groups around the world ? a recording of which was heard by The New York Times ? about the state of its business. He outlined three main challenges: the economic downturn, the financial problems of newspapers, and what he described as customers becoming competitors, specifically CNN.

Of those three challenges, he said he was most worried about the last one.

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