Nine Entertainment Co.’s newspapers have signed a six-month trial with The Australian Associated Press (AAP), two years after the media company opted to – along with co-majority shareholder News Corp – close the newswire service.
Nine’s managing director of publishing, James Chessell told Mumbrella the six-month trial would give the newsrooms the opportunity to evaluate how AAP content might fit with its subscriber and audience strategies.
“I am pleased to be re-partnering with AAP at a time of continual change for newsrooms,” he said. “It promises to be a fascinating and worthwhile project.”
Nine Publishing’s mastheads, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review, Brisbane Times and WAtoday are re-subscribing to the AAP newswire for a six-month trial.
The timing of the re-subscription comes as negotiations with the union over a new agreement stalls over staff requesting a 6% per annum pay increase, with the threat of a journalist strike rising, however a spokesperson from Nine denied hearing there was any word of a strike.
In March 2020, AAP’s shareholders, including Nine Entertainment and News Corp Australia said the 85-year-old institution was unsustainable and decided to pull their funding. However, at the last-minute before the service was set to close in June, AAP was bought by a consortium of impact investors and philanthropists led by Peter Tonagh, a former chief of News Corp and Foxtel.
Prior to its 2020 sale and re-launch the AAP was predominantly owned by Nine Entertainment (44.74%), and News Corp Australia (44.74%), with Seven West Media and Australian Community Media as minor shareholders.
News Corp and Nine formerly contributed in excess of $10 million annually, with minor shareholders Seven West Media and Australian Community Media contributing more that $1 million.
The new subscription agreement is the culmination of discussions between AAP and Nine spanning several weeks. The mastheads will have access to the full suite of AAP’s text content, with a capped number of images from AAP Photos per month also included.
The deal gives Nine mastheads the opportunity to explore how AAP’s content might continue to support their subscription strategy into the future.
AAP CEO, Lisa Davies, welcomed Nine’s publications back to the newswire and said she looked forward to seeing AAP’s journalism in some of the nation’s most-read mastheads once more.’
Davies, now CEO at AAP, was editor of Nine masthead the Sydney Morning Herald, at the time of the previously stated closure.
“AAP is a vital part of the news media landscape, aiming to complement the work of regional and metropolitan newsrooms,” she said.
Chessell noted to staffers in a memo: “How AAP’s feed might be of use will vary topic-to-topic. For instance, Business might use AAP’s market wraps, freeing up staff reporters to dig deeper on corporate and consumer news. Sport might use AAP’s match reports so our journalists can do more long reads.
“In coming days the newsrooms will get a briefing from AAP’s editor, Andrew Drummond, on their current offering, and topic editors will be given account access.
“Wire stories will be tagged so we can track performance, but they will also be included in topic TED results for the Metro mastheads, so everyone should be strategic about their use. Topic editors will be accountable for the performance of the wire stories they publish,” he said. “At the end of six months we will make an assessment of our long-term plans dependent on the audience data.”