In Canada and New Zealand, News Agencies in Flux Illustrate the Pressures on the Co-op Model

By: Tim Currie |

The Canadian Press and the New Zealand Press Association have a few things in common. They both serve as national news agencies to English-speaking countries with relatively small populations. For decades, they were both owned by their nation’s newspaper companies, in a co-operative ownership structure.

But there’s something else only one of them is likely to have in 2012: a future.

While CP is adjusting to a new life as a for-profit entity, the NZPA faces the likelihood of closing. Both show the difficulties in an ownership structure that is under pressure worldwide.

And while the largest co-op news agency — the Associated Press — is in healthier shape, it too has faced questions in an environment where how national news gets created and shared is changing. Co-op agencies thrived in the 20th century as a way for small newspapers in isolated markets to carry national news, by sharing content and creating a shared resource among companies. But consolidating media ownership and changing business models have increasingly pushed them into unknown territory.

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