AAP, Pagemasters call it a day as subscribers disconnect

Australian Associated Press has announced it will close its Newswire and Pagemasters editorial production services mid-year.

Chief executive Bruce Davidson - who described the closure as "an extremely sad day for Australian journalism" - said it was "no longer viable" to continue.

He said fewer publishers were subscribing to the news wire service as digital platforms took "other people's content and distribute it for free".

Owned by Nine, News Corp, The West Australian and Australian Community Media, AAP has been providing a newswire to Australian media companies for 85 years.

The Newswire will close at the end of June and Pagemasters at the end of August. AAP's press release distribution business Medianet and its media intelligence business Mediaverse will be offered for sale.

There are hopes job losses will be offset by opportunities as companies reorganise the way they receive news and page production services. "In particular, News Corp and Nine will be making additional investment in their own news teams to replace some of the content they currently source from AAP," the company said.

Davidson pictured) said it was tragic that AAP - a critical part of journalism in Australia since 1935 - would come to an end: "Hundreds of wonderful journalists made their start at AAP and went on to brilliant careers. Many others chose to stay with the agency for several decades and are part of the revered 'AAP family'.

"Many more amazing people have been part of the fabric of the company in critical support and management roles. I want to thank all of them for their service and contribution to Australian journalism over many years."

AAP chairman Campbell Reid - who is News Corp's group executive, corporate affairs, policy and government relations - paid tribute to AAP staff who had served the Australian community for the better part of a century. "For generations AAP has been journalism's first responder," he said.

"Its reporters, photographers and production staff have accurately recorded the first cut of contemporary Australian history and the nation is in their debt. 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."

He thanked Davidson, Newswire editor-in-chief Tony Gillies "and many others" who have been fighting to keep the AAP business alive in the face of this relentless disruption.

"But eventually the number of organisations choosing to no longer rely on the AAP service has made the business unsustainable. Today's decision is made with a very heavy heart."

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