By: MARK FITZGERALD
THE FIVE YEARS Frank Daniels Jr. served as chairman of the Associated Press ? and the 14 years he served on its board ? saw the greatest technological change in the 149-year history of the news cooperative.
AP created a digital photo transmission service, a satellite ad transmission service, an international video news service and, just last fall, an Internet news service.
Yet, when Daniels reflects on his time at the top of AP, he says something else stands out even in this sea change of technology.
“The most important thing to me was working out all the relationships,” Daniels said. “Who the AP sells to and how it sells is always in flux. The AP has to deal with all the different players who want to buy the AP report, and yet at the same time we remain ‘wholesalers,’ as I call it.”
Daniels retired from the AP board and its chairmanship at the cooperative’s annual meeting held during the recent Newspaper Association of America convention in Chicago. Daniels earlier this year retired as president and publisher of the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer, which was sold to McClatchy Newspapers.
Newhouse Newspapers’ Donald Newhouse is the new AP chairman.
In an interview, Daniels said he leaves with enormous respect for the job AP does.
“If you think about it, the AP is the largest news agency in the world, if you separate the news operation from the rest of what Reuters does, and it has done a great job without being overcome by bureaucracy,” he said.
That’s permitted AP management to be decisive when ? as often happens ? its technological decisions on hardware like the AP LeafDesk sets a de facto industry standard.
“You know, on technology you can wait and wait and never do a thing,” Daniels said. “On LeafDesk, the management was decisive ? and the industry needed
it. . . . The quality of our analog [wire photo transmission] was not good.”
It was a similar case with AdSend, the ad transmission service which had its roots in a casual conversation between Daniels and an executive from the department store chain Dillards.
The executive wanted to know if there was any way ads could be transmitted electronically, and Daniels made some calls to AP.
“There again, there was a clear industry need, and we were in a position with both advertisers and with the technology to do it,” Daniels said.
In the last couple of years, AP has stretched out even more into video and the Internet.
Developing APTV, the video news service aimed mostly at the international market, was a logical first step to the World Wide Web, Daniels said.
“We felt strategically we would do something like ‘The Wire’ [AP’s 6-month-old Internet news service] and to do that
we would need video,” he said. “Now, while there is plenty of U.S. video available, there is a limit
on international [news] video.”Daniels immediate personal plans involve the print medium.
He recently bought the twice-weekly Pilot in Southern Pines, N.C., that will be managed by family members. And he is continuing to develop the Philanthropy Journal, a 3-year-old regional magazine Daniels hopes to one day take national.
Daniels got a moving send-off to his retirement at AP’s annual luncheon from a fellow North Carolinian, White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.
“I admire Frank Daniels so deeply because he is so principled,” Bowles said. “If you read the editorial pages of the Raleigh News & Observer, you know he takes strong stands and doesn’t give one iota of a hoot who agrees with him or not . . . . He has the sharpest tongue of anyone I’ve ever met and the warmest heart of any person I’ve ever known.”
“It’s been a lot of fun and a great run,” Daniels told the packed luncheon at the Chicago Hilton and Towers.
?(Frank Daniels) [Photo]
?E&P Web Site: http://www.mediainfo.com.
?copyright: Editor & Publisher May 31, 1997