AP's Online Wire Making Strides p. 12

By: JOHN CONSOLI ASSOCIATED PRESS PRESIDENT and CEO Louis Boccardi spent the bulk of his address at the AP annual meeting in Chicago last week proudly profiling the news cooperative's six-month-old Internet news service for members, the Wire.
The service went live in October, and 150 AP member newspaper Web sites are now linked to it. That number is expected to grow to 200 by year's end, AP projects. The only way readers can get to the Wire is through a link on their newspaper's Web page.
Boccardi said the strength of the Wire is that "the major stories on which we assemble our coverage come from every type of AP reporting available ? words, images, sound and video.
In addition to written news stories and photos, visitors can get access to audio news updates from AP Network News and video clips from the news cooperatives APTV, its international video service which began two years ago.
Boccardi said newspaper ad staffs are selling banner ads across the bottom of the page and AP is "looking at how to facilitate national advertising from people who want to reach the audience" each local site delivers.
In January, Boccardi said, the Wire incorporated a new technique for single-shot panoramic photography that allows in one instance users to see a view from the middle of the crowd during President Clinton's inaugural address and to turn slowly for a seamless 360-degree view, looking up or down and zooming in on anything that caught their eye.
"The picture is captured in a parabolic reflector and then adjusted by computer to restore a more normal perspective," Boccardi said.
Several weeks after the inauguration, when tornados struck in Arkansas, Boccardi said "the panoramic camera proved itself to be an excellent way to bring home to online viewers the full scope of the disaster. We put several shots of the devastation online."
Leading up to the Academy Awards, Boccardi said, the site had a "pick-your-own Oscar page" where readers could view film clips of the nominees and cast their votes for the winners.
The site has just added a complete weather section with maps and forecasts from around the world, and plans call for the Wire to introduce an expanded financial section in the fall.
AP also made strides in other areas. For example, it is making more use of computer-assisted reporting ? using newsroom computers to perform research, locate sources and analyze government or corporate data.
"It's producing major news breaks and exclusives for us every week in states across the country," Boccardi said.
"In the past year, we've used these new tools and skills to show that state officials in Kentucky and Indiana do little to enforce safety limits on highway truck loads," he said. "Our staff in Texas reported that high school football coaches make 75 percent more than other teachers, and provided the data, town by town, to prove it."
If planes crash or other disasters strike remote areas, digital directories give us phone numbers of potential witnesses. We often have eyewitness accounts on your news desks even before authorities arrive at the scene," he said.
AP StocksExpress, introduced last summer, is "now well established" and has 65 subscribers, Boccardi said. In addition, AP has just introduced a "preclose" version for evening papers, he said.
Boccardi said AP's market services portfolio has added a Mutual Fund Portfolio that is offered with Lipper Analytical Services. "Each week we pick one of the more noteworthy funds for an in-depth profile of its performance," he said.
AP Adsend, now profitable, has 413 advertisers under contract to send their and 1,350 publications in the network, Boccardi said.
?Web Site: http://www.mediainfo.com.
?copyright: Editor & Publisher, May 3, 1997.


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