AAP shift gear to align with subscriber needs

The first cab off the rank was AAP Newswire Live that gives subscribers a live coverage package of a news event, designed as a complementary service to the breaking news wire. The live feed incorporates text, images, video, interactive graphics and social media excerpts in one place.

Publishers themselves are experimenting with different ways to live-blog events, but it’s a labour intensive process that requires a dedicated employee to orchestrate content from different sources.

AAP reporter Elise Scott

AAP reporter Elise Scott doing ‘Reporter’s Take’ in the AAP main headquarters at Rhodes in Sydney.

“These are resource hungry things for newsrooms to do … our aim is to assist our subscribers in doing all that heavy lifting,” AAP editor-in-chief Tony Gillies said.

“This allows us to report very quickly from the field in a completely multimedia fashion.”

AAP spent several months developing its live coverage software in-house before making the service regularly available in February. Subscribers are alerted when AAP decides to cover an event in this way and those who purchase it are provided with an embed code for their websites.

The AAP live tool was initially used to cover big breaking news events such as Melbourne Cup, the American presidential election and the papal election.

AAP has now begun to expand Newswire Live into daily streams for general news, politics and finance, with daily live feeds for entertainment and sport are also in the works. While the feeds are currently generic, from this month subscribers will have the capability to input their own content into the AAP live feed to create unique versions.

Despite the necessity of providing constant updates to fuel the live feed, Mr Gillies says AAP is not cutting any corners that compromise journalistic rigour.

“It’s written in a slightly different style, but it’s journos writing this from the field with well thought-out observations and factual accounts of things unfolding in front of them,” he said.

Another recent addition to the AAP portfolio is Reporter’s Take where journalists create a 45-second video recounting an anecdote from the field. AAP began working on the concept late last year and conducted staff training earlier this year.

The goal is to create 15 Reporter’s Takes daily on merit, with two or three from each of AAP’s bureaux around the country. A self-manned production centre with the necessary sound and lighting equipment has been set-up in each AAP newsroom. The reporter records the piece to camera after returning to the office and sends the footage to the production desk for a raw edit.

While journalists doing video isn’t new, Mr Gillies stresses the purpose of Reporter’s Take is not to provide analysis or opinion, but rather to inject a human layer of observation into AAP’s storytelling.

“Journalists get quite blasé about the circles they walk in, the people they meet, the doors they walk through,” Mr Gillies said. “We want to give the audience a chance to see what our

journalists go through in the pursuit of gathering a news story.”

Reporter’s Take also functions as a testament to AAP’s investment in quality journalism.

Image Sydney

AAP’s Rhodes bureau in Sydney

“The barriers to publishing are so low now in an online environment – people are reporting on news from their kitchen. This is a signal we were actually there on the scene of the story and this is what we saw,” Mr Gillies said.

While AAP has always provided an essential service tailored to publishers’ needs, AAP is pushing to stay ahead of the curve as the landscape of breaking news change.

Mr Gillies says AAP content is utilised now more than ever as the pressure for publishers to create content across platforms converges with reduced editorial staffs.

“Our newspaper publishers, they’re no longer just publishers for print. Everyone is publishing content on mobile, website and tablet. As they’re converging, we’re responding to those requirements,” he said.

Part of that process is a constant evaluation and evolution of AAP’s workflows. AAP now tailors content and its format to platforms and time of day, rather than drip-feeding stories throughout the day as they break.

The life of a story used to be 24-hours, according to Mr Gillies, but now it’s more likely to be two hours. In the morning it’s all about short, sharp stories. Later in the day, image galleries and video are prioritised.

“Depending on where you are at any point in the day, AAP content will be suited to different devices,” Mr Gillies said. “Many newsrooms are doing exactly that themselves; as a supplier we need to be right on top of that as well.”

Many news publishers now choose to have AAP content published automatically to their websites. By providing that backbone of news content ticking over, AAP allows publishers to chase the stories that will set them aside from their competitors, according to Mr Gillies.

“We don’t profess to replace anyone, but we aim to do a lot of the heavy lifting,” he said.

“This evolution of the wire is to ensure that we most effectively connect with the publishers’ requirements now and into the future.”

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