NAA mediaXchange 2014

Pruitt: AP To Add Statehouse Reporters

The Associated Press is adding up to 30 new reporters to bolster its statehouse coverage, Gary Pruitt, AP president and CEO, said Tuesday at the NAA's mediaXchange conference in Denver. Pruitt also pledged more alignment of state government reporting with its members.
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DENVER -- The Associated Press will add 20-30 new reporters as part of an initiative to beef up its statehouse coverage and state bureaus, Gary Pruitt, the AP's president and CEO, told attendees of the Newspaper Association of America's mediaXchange here on Tuesday. [Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Pruitt said the AP was adding 30-40 new reporters. The news organization is adding 20-30 new journalists.]

Some of those new reporting positions were filled at the end of 2013, while the rest will be added this year, Paul Colford, AP's director of media relations, noted by email.

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Pruitt also pledged more alignment of state government reporting with its members, part of a slate of improvements he promised to members of the cooperative.

Those improvements include more flexibility and options in purchasing AP content. He says members can now purchase an intermediate pricing tier or buy content in topical blocks such as sports.

"You as members can decide what works for you," Pruitt says. "You can dial up or dial down."

Pruitt says that since 2006, which marked the beginning of a seven-year decline in ad revenue for newspapers, the AP's assessments for members have not been raised and in some cases have fallen by 40%-60%.

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"Do you have any other vendors who are as responsive to your plight as that?" he asked.

The AP will also look to improve its video products in 2014, increasing the number of clips each day and adding an unspecified number of more journalists to the task. Pruitt says there will also be a broader mix of videos, especially around areas like breaking and regional news, entertainment and health.

He says the production value of the videos themselves will also improve as will the speed with which they become available.

"We want to get you the clips immediately so you can get the traffic," he says.

Pruitt also touted the AP's digital news experiences, "consumer-ready digital verticals" around things like major sporting events, that were available free to members as well as offering them a revenue share on national ads sold into the content.

More globally, Pruitt pledged fealty to the industry that launched the AP: "AP's commitment to U.S. newspapers is strong and true and continuous since our founding in 1846."

But he also had strong words for the newspapers that are considering ending their membership. "If you walk away from AP, you walk away from your ownership stake in the most important news organization in the world," he says. "Good luck."

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