AAP Newswire to close in June
3 March 2020, Written by David Simmons
News and content distributor AAP Newswire will close in June after 85 years of operation, citing the rise of free online content as the company's death knell.
CEO Brice Davidson said the business was no longer viable in the face of increasing free online content, leading to the closure of Newswire and AAP's Pagemasters editorial production service.
The Newswire shutdown will mean more than 180 staff located in every Australian state and territory plus New Zealand, Los Angeles and London will be left without a job. Additionally, Newswire employs around 100 freelance photographers.
Campbell Reid, chairman of AAP which is owned by Nine, News Corp Australia, The West Australian and Australian Community Media, today lamented the demise of the company which he described as "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," says Reid.
"The number of organisations choosing to no longer rely on the AAP service has made the business unsustainable."
The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) has described AAP's decision to close Newswire irresponsible as it calls on the government to rein in the unfettered dominance of international digital giants like Google and Facebook.
"The decision to close the AAP Newswire business in June and its Pagemasters sub-editing operation in August is a gross abandonment of responsibility by its shareholders," says the MEAA.
"MEAA calls on the investors to recognise that they cannot fulfil their duty to inform the community without delivering a solution to fill the enormous void left if AAP is not available to perform its function."
MEAA Media federal president Marcus Strom says while those employed by AAP will certainly be hit hard by the closure of Newswire and Pagemasters the effects will be felt across the entire media industry.
"This decision will also devastate the media industry and the communities it serves," says Strom.
"Beancounters at the top of media organisations might think they can soldier on without AAP, but the reality is it will leave a huge hole in news coverage. Filling those holes will fall to already overburdened newsroom journalists. Or coverage will simply cease to occur."
"To lose AAP is to deny Australians across the nation of essential news and information."
Social media has been lit up with responses to the closure of the AAP, with editor in chief of Newswire Tony Gillies announcing the news on Twitter.