Associated Press

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The Associated Press Building in New York City. The AP left this building in 2004.

The Associated Press, or AP, is an American news agency, the world's largest such organization. Formed in 1846, The Associated Press is governed by an elected board of directors chosen from the heads of a number of large news organizations including newspapers and broadcasters. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers and radio and television stations in the United States, who both contribute stories to it and use material written by its staffers. Many newspapers and broadcasters outside the United States are AP subscribers—that is, they pay a fee to use AP material, but are not members of the cooperative. Generally using a "just the facts" writing style, the AP has provided basic news coverage of events around the world to the world, and its Stylebook has become the standard "Bible" of the newspaper industry. With advances in technology, particularly the internet, the role and style of AP reporting has evolved. Thus, the AP has maintained its position as the preeminent world news agency, doing more to inform and educate the public about current events than any other single organization, a valuable contribution to establishing a world in which all people can live in peace and harmony as one human family.


The Associated Press (AP) was formed in May 1846 by representatives of five competitive New York City newspapers. After the Civil War, the owners of these newspapers realized that they, through their newspapers, were all essentially paying for the same information from their reporters. (Reporters covering the battle sites of the Civil War used the telegraph to send in their reports.) The owners of the newspapers realized that it would be cheaper to have a service collect and pay for the information once from the telegraph company. Deciding to pool resources to collect news from Europe, they formed the Harbor News Association.[1]

The driving force in its formation was Moses Yale Beach, publisher of the New York Sun, when he invited the other New York publishers to join the Sun in a cooperative venture in covering the Mexican-American War. The five New York papers joined in the agreement were the Sun, the Journal of Commerce, the Courier and Enquirer, the Herald, and the Express. Until the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the Penny Press, newspapers competed by sending reporters out in rowboats to meet the ships as they arrived in the harbor. In 1849, the Harbor News Association opened the first bureau outside the U.S., in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to meet ships from Europe before they docked in New York. In 1856, the Harbor News Association became the Associated Press.

The AP thrived under the leadership of Kent Cooper, a former reporter who joined the organization in 1910. Cooper encouraged a more effective prose style. He also facilitated the incorporation of new technology into the news dissemination process, introducing telegraph printing and the first system to transmit photographs via wire into the offices of the AP. Cooper also used his position within the AP to advocate for freedom of the press, introducing the phrase “the right to know.”[2]

Brief Timeline

  • 1861: Facing censorship in covering the American Civil War, reporters first filed under the anonymous byline "from the Associated Press agent."
  • 1876: Mark Kellogg, a stringer, becomes the first AP correspondent to die in the line of duty, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. His final dispatch: "I go with Custer and will be at the death."
  • 1893: Melville E. Stone becomes the general manager of the reorganized AP, a post he retains until 1921. Under his leadership, the AP becomes one of the world's most prominent news agencies.
  • 1899: AP uses Guglielmo Marconi's wireless telegraph to cover the America's Cup yacht race off Sandy Hook, New Jersey, the first news test of the new telegraph.
  • 1914: AP introduces the teletype, which transmitted directly to printers over telegraph wires. Eventually a worldwide network of 60-word-per-minute teletypes is built up.
  • 1935: AP starts WirePhoto, the world's first wire service for photographs. The first photo to transfer over the wires was of a plane crash in Morehouseville, New York, on January 1, 1935.
  • 1938: AP moves into 50 Rockefeller Plaza (known as "50 Rock") in the newly built Rockefeller Center, which would remain its headquarters for 68 years; in 2004, it shifted to expanded offices at 450 W. 33rd Street, New York City.
  • 1941: AP expands from print into radio.
  • 1951: William N. Oatis, AP Prague bureau chief, is charged with espionage in Czechoslovakia and jailed for 28 months. The Czech government said Oatis was dangerous because of his insistence on obtaining only "accurate, correct, verified information." The case makes international headlines. Oatis is released in May 1953. A Czech court cleared him of the charges in 1959.
  • 1963: Stock listings are computerized, replacing manual punching, and are transmitted on Dataspeed at 1,200 words per minute, a dramatic increase from 66 words per minute.
  • 1970: AP enters the age of electronic news transmission when copy is filed from a computer in Atlanta to news and broadcast wires in seven southern states. Atlanta is the first of ten computerized “hub” bureaus.
  • 1976: AP introduces LaserPhoto and the first laser-scanned pictures for transmission, producing better picture quality. The revolutionary technology uses a photo paper processed with heat instead of chemistry and a laser light source instead of the decades-old lamp system.
  • 1984: AP becomes the first news organization to own a satellite transponder.
  • 1990: AP begins delivering photos via satellite to AP Leaf Picture Desks, on computer-receiving terminals at newspapers.
  • 1994: AP launches Associated Press Television News (APTV), a global video news gathering agency, headquartered in London.
  • 1996: AP photographers cover a major event, Super Bowl XXX, using only digital cameras and no film.
  • 2002: In October, AP President and CEO Tom Curley announces the “e-AP” initiative to transform the company into a global news network through an interactive, multimedia platform that allows its members to tailor content to their own needs.
  • 2004: In May, AP President and CEO Tom Curley calls upon all news media in the U.S. to renew their dedication to and demand for freedom of information. In the Hays Press-Enterprise Lecture in Riverside, California, Curley states, “Open government is the personal interest and constitutional right of every citizen. But we of the fourth estate have by far the greatest means and incentive to speak and fight for it.”
  • 2006: The Online Video Network (OVN) service is established, to provide news video to AP member and customer websites.[3]

AP Today

As of 2005, AP's news is used by 1,700 newspapers, in addition to 5,000 television and radio outlets. Its photo library consists of more than 10 million images. The AP has 242 bureaus and serves 121 countries, with a diverse international staff drawing from all over the world. The AP Stylebook has become the de facto standard for news writing in the United States.

As part of their agreements with the Associated Press, most newspapers grant automatic permission for the AP to distribute their local news reports. For example, on page two of every edition of the Washington Post, the masthead includes the announcement, "The Associated Press is entitled exclusively to use for republication of all news dispatches credited to it or not otherwise credited in this paper and all local news of spontaneous origin published herein."

The collapse of United Press International as a major competitor, AP's traditional rival, has left it as the only nationally oriented news service based in the United States. The other rival English language news services, such as Reuters and the English language service of Agence France Presse, are based outside the United States.

The AP has a straightforward, "just-the-facts" writing style, often using the "inverted pyramid style" of writing so that stories can be edited to fit available space in a newspaper without losing the essence of the story. The explosion of media and news outlets with the arrival of the Internet has made such concise writing less necessary, and raised the need for more feature-style writing.

The Internet has also posed a threat to AP's financial structure. On April 18, 2005, at its annual meeting, AP announced that as of 2006 it would, for the first time, begin charging separate fees for posting articles and pictures online. News outlets that buy AP's news, sports, business, and entertainment coverage were previously allowed to place the material online at no extra cost. The cooperative later reversed this plan and, in a bid to reach more readers, launched asap, a service aimed at 18–34-year-olds.

Web resource

The AP's multi-topic structure has lent itself well to web portals which all have news pages which constantly need to be updated. Often, such portals rely on news services, particularly the AP, as their first source for news coverage of breaking news items. For example, Yahoo's "Top News" page gives the AP top visibility out of any news outlet. This has been of major impact to the AP's public image and role, as it gives new credence to the AP's continual mission of having staff for covering every area of news fully and promptly.

AP Sports Polls

The Associated Press is also known for putting together Associated Press (AP) Polls on numerous college sports in the United States. The AP Poll is the longest-serving college football poll, having started in 1936. The AP Poll, ranking the top-25 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I-A college football and Division I men's and women's college basketball teams, are the most well-known college polls. The polls are made by collecting top-25 votes of numerous designated sports journalists and then compiled at the AP office. The AP Poll in college football was particularly notable because it helped determine the ranking of teams at the end of the year for the Bowl Championship Series until the AP, citing conflict of interest, asked for the AP Poll to be removed from the Bowl Championship Series.[4] In the 2005 season, the Harris Interactive College Football Poll took its place in the formula.

News Controversies

Guantánamo Bay detainees

The Associated Press made available for download the unclassified portions of the dossiers of 59 Guantánamo Bay detainees, which they acquired through Freedom of Information Act requests.

In 2005, AP requested that the Department of Defense provide transcripts and related documents from the Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs). The Department of Defense released redacted versions of the transcripts and related documents, claiming that the release of the detainees' names and other identifying information in unredacted versions would violate their privacy (as protected by Exemption 6 to the Freedom of Information Act), but never claimed that the release of unredacted versions would compromise national security. In 2005, U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff ordered the Department of Defense to ask each detainee for permission for their names to be released, and on January 24, 2006, Rakoff ruled in favor of the Associated Press, finding that the Department of Defense had failed to offer adequate evidence to support their claims and that the detainees had no reasonable expectation of privacy under the order, and therefore ordered the Department of Defense to release the unredacted transcripts and related documents.[5] Documents of only 317 of the 490 detainees were released on March 3, 2006. Although Rakoff had already dismissed this argument, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman justified withholding the names out of a concern for the detainees' privacy. [6]

Jamil Hussein controversy

Some Associated Press reporters have been accused of using fake sources, in particular a purported police captain Jamil Hussein, for their reporting of sectarian violence in Iraq. The Associated Press stood by its reporting, and on January 4, 2007, the Iraqi Interior Ministry recognized Jamil as an active member of the Baghdad police force, and said he now faces arrest for talking to journalists. Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who had previously denied the existence of Hussein, acknowledged that the officer was assigned to the Khadra police station.[7] The revelation led to several apologies[8][9] for having made false accusations against The Associated Press. Others[10] [11] argued that the controversy did not end with the proof of Hussein's existence, but raised deeper questions about the work of The Associated Press in Iraq.


  1. "AP is older than was thought, papers show," Associated Press, January 31, 2006.
  2. Kent Cooper. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved March 2, 2007.
  3. History/Archives Associated Press.
  4. BCS Chronology. Fox Sports. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  5. NY Judge Orders Release of More Gitmo Detainee Info to AP. Editor and Publisher. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  6. Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) and Administrative Review Board (ARB) Documents. Department of Defense. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  7. Steven R. Hurst, Iraq threatens arrest of police captain who spoke to media. Associated Press, January 4, 2007.
  8. Cycle of Violence: Sackcloth and Ashes Denied. Little Green Footballs, January 6, 2007. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  9. AP: Iraqi government confirms that Jamil Hussein exists. Hotair. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  10. Jamil Hussein development: 'Faces arrest?' Michelle Malkin. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  11. The Latest and Greatest on Jamil Hussein. Flopping Aces. Retrieved February 24, 2007.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Alabiso, Vincent, K. S. Tunney, and Chuck Zoeller. 1998. Flash!: The Associated Press Covers the World. New York: Associated Press; Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0810919745 ISBN 978-0810919747
  • Associated Press. 2007. Breaking News: How the Associated Press has Covered War, Peace, and Everything Else. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 1568986890 ISBN 978-1568986890
  • Associated Press. 2007. The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. Perseus Books Group. ISBN 046500489X ISBN 978-0465004898
  • Cooper, Kent. 1958. Kent Cooper and The Associated Press: An Autobiography. Random House.

External links

All links retrieved August 18, 2023.


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