The Australian Associated Press (AAP) Australia’s only national newswire will be shut down after 85 years of operation. Staff at AAP headquarters were told a drop-off in subscribers due to free online made the business “no longer viable”.
Approximately 180 staff of the AustralianAAP newswire Associated Press were told Tuesday their jobs will end this June. Chief executive Bruce Davidson said with a heavy heart that the decision was made on an economic and financial basis.
The newswire will close at the end of June while its sub-editing business Pagemasters is set to close at the end of August.
The decision to close the wire needs approval from its owners Nine, News Corp Australia, The West Australian and Australian Community Media.
Meanwhile, AAP chairman Campbell Reid described the newswire as Australian “journalism’s first responder”.
“It is a great loss that professional and researched information provided by AAP is being substituted with the un-researched and often inaccurate information that masquerades as real news on the digital platforms,” added Mr Reid, who is also a News Corp executive.
Australian Associated Press newswire staff praised
AAP provided reporting on general news, courts, politics, finance, entertainment, travel, racing and sport, sport results, plus images and video.
The decision to close had been tough but shareholders were left with little option, Mr Reid said.
“The number of organisations choosing to no longer rely on the AAP service has made the business unsustainable.”
Editor-in-Chief Tony Gillies also paid tribute to his team. Describing them as “the most humble and hardest news people”.
“We have had a place like no other in journalism. We exist for the public’s interest and I now fear for the void left by the absence of AAP’s strong, well-considered voice,” Mr Gillies said.
The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance described the closure as “a gross abandonment of responsibility by shareholders”.
Huge hole left in newswire service
“AAP delivers news, photos and sub editing services that the major media groups either cannot or will not,” union president Marcus Strom said.
“Bean counters at the top of media organisations might think they can soldier on without AAP. However the reality is it will leave a huge hole in news coverage.”
The Alliance blamed the federal government’s failure to effectively deal with digital content aggregators, search engines and social media, which has made news readily available for free online.
Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said AAP’s closure was a reflection of the wider media sector.
“Some types of content are struggling, other types of content are booming. Streaming services are booming,” he told the ABC.
“Businesses in the media and communications sector are now seeking to reposition themselves. Furthermore they are building in areas that are growing and reallocate resources from other areas.”
The AAP was originally founded by media baron Keith Murdoch in 1935. AAP became a central source of news for major outlets in Australia and overseas.
Staff were also told between 30 and 50 jobs would be made available at the company’s two major shareholders Nine and News Corp Australia.