You'll see a lot on the wires and in the blogosphere in the next few days about an arrangement that lets Google host AP and some other wire stories on its own pages. That means users at Google News will no longer see a multitude of alternative links to those wire stories as they appear on many different newspaper (and other) websites.
That will cost us a little traffic – but not much, and not very valuable. That kind of random, out-of-market traffic in search of generic wire news isn't at the heart of what we do.
I'm not yet fully informed about this – and I do fault the AP for failure to communicate with us adequately about the deal. There are likely to be some yet-unknown implications, but I will say that most of the commentary I've seen so far seems a bit apocalytic.
AP doesn't sell Google its "state wire" with local news that originates from our papers, so that traffic isn't affected. Neither is organic search at google.com.
What changes is that Google News readers won't click on one of the multiple newspaper sources previously listed by Google News for basic AP content. And what's the effect of that? It's better for readers, doesn't affect much traffic for us, and could even clear the way on Google News for better display and availability of the genuinely unique material newspaper websites feature.
Anybody whose business plan revolves around drive-by traffic from incidental links to generic AP stories is in deeper trouble than this issue raises.
I'll report more about the details and implications as I know more.