By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Gannett says it will drop the AP. So where will it get international news?

Photo (cc) 2008 by Patrickneil

There aren’t too many people who subscribe to more than one daily newspaper, either digital or in print. There are a few freaks like me (I pay for four). Most people, though, go with zero or one. Which is why a daily, unlike a weekly, should offer a comprehensive mix of international, national and local news. It doesn’t matter if all or most of the non-local journalism is from wire services. After all, The Associated Press, Reuters, AFP and the like are among our finest news organizations.

Gannett, though, is about to embark on a different approach. New York Times media reporter Benjamin Mullin posted on Twitter/X earlier today that our largest newspaper chain is going to drop the AP as of March 25. “This shift will give us the opportunity to redeploy more dollars … where we might have gaps,” according to a memo from chief content officer Kristin Roberts that was quoted by Mullin, who also quoted a statement from Gannett:

This decision enables us to invest further in our newsrooms and leverage our incredible USA TODAY Network of more than 200 newsrooms across the nation as well USA TODAY to reach and engage more readers, viewers and listeners.

In other words, Gannett’s 200-plus daily papers are going to be dependent on USA Today, the mothership, for anything other than local news. So how is that going to work out?

I flipped through the current e-paper version of USA Today to see what type of international and national journalism might be available. The front page features interesting stories about COVID, Black history museums and, well, the cherry blossoms in Washington. Inside are staff-written stories on transgender issues, free speech, some Trumpy content and St. Patrick’s Day violence in Florida. The business, sports and lifestyle sections are all staff-written. So far, so good.

But there was only one international story in the main body of the paper, a piece about famine in Gaza that appears on page 2. It was written by a USA Today staff writer, but it’s based mainly on a United Nations report. At the end is a tagline stating that material from the AP was incorporated into the article. It’s accompanied by an AFP photo. In other words, covering the world without AP content may prove to be mighty difficult.

The Gannett papers offer something else to their subscribers called Nation & World Extra that looks like a print product but that I’m told is available only as part of the e-paper. Here you’ll find serious stories about the war in Gaza, the Supreme Court, the migrant crisis and more, and virtually all of it is from the AP. Imagine that you’re a subscriber to The Providence Journal and no other daily paper. Perhaps you rely on Nation & World Extra. And it’s about to lose all of its AP reporting, to be replaced with — well, who knows?

In a similar vein, Gannett also offers something called Sports Extra that also mostly consists of AP news.

I don’t want to pronounce this a pending disaster until I see what it looks like in practice. USA Today is a fine paper, and there’s no reason that Gannett’s dailies can’t use USA Today stories to provide their readers with important national news. But I don’t see how they’re going to offer any international coverage without relying on a wire service, whether it’s the AP or something else.

As is usually the case with Gannett, this seems like nothing other than a money-saving move.

Update: Gannett has clarified initial reports and now says it will use Reuters for international news and the AP for election returns. In addition, the McClatchy chain is cutting back on its use of AP journalism as well.

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Gannett will use Reuters for international news and the AP for election returns



    If Gannett uses the savings from dropping AP to shore up its local news coverage, then I’m all for it. After all, there are plenty of other sources for international news, including the free But somehow I think this is really a move to satisfy investors more than anything else.

    • Mike LaBonte

      Terry do you know if provides real time election results? I believe only AP has that infrastructure. It could be a separate product I suppose.


        I do not know. I suspect not because real-time election results sound like premium content.

  2. Mark Laurence

    I get the Worcester Telegram & Gazette e-edition. With a deadline that seems to be early afternoon, almost all the news is two days old. Most of the news that’s worth reading is local because you can’t get it anywhere else. The national and international news is a lot of filler. Until a month or so ago, it was almost all AP and I wondered why they didn’t make more use of the “USA Today Network” that’s bylined everywhere. Recently that’s changed and almost all the stories are from USA Today. They haven’t dropped AP yet but it was obvious that they’ve changed direction. For background and analysis, which is mostly what two-day-old news is good for, I think USA Today is an improvement.

    In Canada, Postmedia owns most of the major city newspapers and runs them on a shoestring budget. They tried dropping AP and the Canadian Press, but the result was so awful that they have brought them back. It seems their deteriorating national staff and thinned-out local bureaus couldn’t provide enough to make up for the wire services.

  3. Eric Schucht

    According to Nieman Lab, Gannett will still get wire content from Reuters:

  4. Walter Crockett

    “This shift will give us the opportunity to redeploy more dollars … where we might have gaps.”

    I would assume those gaps are largest in the pockets of the CEO and some large shareholders. Money just keeps falling right through them. Surely if you deploy enough money into those pockets they will clog up, right?

    • MJB

      We subscribe to three: NYT, Washington Post and the Globe. The latter, of course, relies heavily on the Times, so maybe we should count them as 2.5 subscriptions.

      Our local paper has become so devoid of substantial reporting it’s not worth supporting.

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