Associated Press cuts new-media news service

Youth-oriented, video- and blog-heavy news service will disappear at the end of October.

This one's kind of a bitter irony. We've all been reading over and over about how traditional news outlets are turning to the Web in order to boost readership and advertising revenue in the face of a well-documented decline in print media (Wired magazine has a feature in this month's issue about newspaper chain Gannett's attempt to modernize). But in this case, it's the other way around: The Associated Press, according to a report on Friday evening, has announced that it's axing its youth-oriented, blog- and video-heavy ASAP news portal because it proved to be a failed experiment.

The two-year-old ASAP, which was created as an alternative news hub for the generation of young professionals who typically don't turn on a TV news show unless Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert is involved, will go under on October 31. Director Kathleen Carroll said in a memo that it simply wasn't profitable enough.

A look at what's on ASAP's front page. Not nearly enough on 'the news.' The Associated Press

This is really too bad, in my opinion, because the AP had a great chance to show that it's possible for an established and reputable name in reporting to create a separate property geared toward the YouTube crowd. Unfortunately, it fell short in a few ways--ASAP offers up traditional AP news stories mixed with podcasts, video footage, map mashups, and blog commentary, but most of it isn't integrated as seamlessly as it could be. There's no central video player, for example.

Also, you have to do some clicking to find what you want to. Top billing is currently given to a feature on The Simpsons, a story and accompanying video about "office casual" fashion, and a link to ASAP's main news blog. Headlines, meanwhile, are kept in small print under verticals like News, Entertainment, and Sports; there's a ticker of AP stories at the top. It just isn't an adequate presentation of what's important--stratifying headlines by freshness and relevance is something that I think the Huffington Post does very well, for example.

The unappealing structure might've been behind ASAP's demise, or perhaps it was a matter of publicity: I'd never even heard of the project until I was at a party thrown by some New York-area media entrepreneurs and there happened to be an ASAP videoblogger walking around.

There's some cool content on ASAP, so enjoy it while it lasts--and stay tuned for more developments in the ongoing evolution of "next-generation news."

 

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