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AAP Newswire Service Closes After 85 Years

After 85 years of operation, news agency Australian Associated Press, whose 180 journalists provide a significant amount of the nation’s daily news and photos, will close its doors.

Founded in 1935 by Keith Murdoch, the independent entity operates to allow media organisations that are paid subscribers to post its content produced by AAP journalists and photographers to their own sites.

The closure will result in 500 job losses, including 180 journalists, at the newswire service, considered a credible training ground for many upcoming journalists today, and will leave fewer journalists covering crucial stories in the already under-resourced Australian media landscape.

Chief Executive Officer of Australian Associated Press (AAP) Bruce Davidson makes an announcement at AAP head office in Sydney, Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (AAP Image/Steven Saphore)

AAP chairman, Campbell Reid, described the newswire service as Australian ‘journalism’s first responder.’

‘It is a great loss that professional and researched information provided by AAP is being substituted with the unresearched and often inaccurate information that masquerades as real news on the digital platforms,’ Reid said.

AAP provides an array of credible and objective services to media companies including newswires, photography and subediting.

Chief executive, Bruce Davidson, announced today the business was no longer viable in the face of mounting free online content. The service will close on 26 June.

Group Executive Corporate Affairs Policy and Government Relations at News Corp Australia Campbell Reid(right) and AAP Group General Council Emma Cowdry walk away after the closure announcement at AAP head office in Sydney, Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (AAP Image/Dylan Coker)

Australian Associated Press’ Pagemasters editorial production service will also shut down at the end of August this year.

The MEAA director, Neill Jones, said in a statement on Tuesday that AAP had loyal and hardworking staff.

‘Australians rely on the hard work of AAP reporters, photographers and sub-editors whenever they open a newspaper or click on a story on a website,’ Jones said.

‘Their work may often go unattributed and without a byline, but without it, Australians would be less informed about politics, sport, crime and other news.’

It comes after major shareholders Nine Entertainment and News Corp Australia, who both hold 45 per cent stake in AAP, reconsider their investments in the business.

Nine Entertainment CEO Hugh Marks at a press conference in Canberra, Wednesday, November 13, 2019. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Nine reported a 9 per cent loss in profits in its half-year results last week, with CEO Hugh Marks announcing the company would embark on a business restructure to remove $100 million in costs.

Of those restructuring plans, Marks said, areas that would be cut would be no longer profitable such as ‘big outputs deals like AAP.’

Sources said News Corp is also having concerns about its costs of running the business, which has lost clients over recent years as the journalism industry is rapidly transformed by digital, according to The Guardian.

In 2018, AAP lost 10 per cent of its journalists in a major cull with executives blaming platforms like Facebook and Google for ‘cannibalising’ their service. AAP also closed its New Zealand Newswire (NZN) service in 2018.

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