Biggest News Agencies the AP or Associated Press Part 1

About one of the biggest news organizations the AP or Associated Press, history of the agency and its founding.



Name of Agency and Country: Associated Press, U.S.

When and How Founded: Back in the mid 1800s, when national news was being transmitted overland by the Pony Express and carrier pigeon, international news came in by ship from Europe, already weeks late. The staleness of the foreign news did not stop New York City's daily papers--and there were 10 of them--from competing fiercely to print it first. Nine of them formed a combine, which, gang-war fashion, controlled the harbor. They prevented the 10th paper, the underdog Journal of Commerce, from getting to the news from Europe, going so far as to shove the Journal's reporters back into their boats when they tried to board the ships. The Journal's manager, enterprising New Englander David Hale, solved that problem by buying a fast sloop to get to the ships first.

Competition intensified with the availability of telegraph service to and from other parts of the country. With only one wire available for all the New York newspapers, it was inevitable that eavesdropping and news-stealing would develop. Hale decided that enough was enough. He went to see the New York Herald's James Gordon Bennett, a Scottish immigrant whose perpetual squint concealed a sharp eye for the news. The two men agreed that it was time to end the competition. In May, 1848, Hale, Bennett, and other representatives of the six major New York dailies met at the Sun's offices and agreed to form a cooperative, owned by member newspapers, for gathering news. It was the unofficial beginning of the Associated Press.

Ex-physician Alexander Jones, who had devised the first cipher telegraph code, was appointed general agent. He was succeeded by Daniel Craig in 1851, who in turn was replaced by James W. Simonton in 1866.

The group, known as the New York Associated Press, began to sell news to papers in other cities, and soon regional affiliates formed, among them the Western Associated Press. At a meeting in Detroit in 1891, Victor Fremont Lawson, a crusading idealist from the Western AP, disclosed an important scandal. Three very important men high up in the rival United Press (not related to the United Press International of today) had made an under-the-table deal with five equally high-ranking New York Associated Press executives, which was resulting in a free gift of AP news to the UP and considerable pocket-lining by the AP executives. The ensuing shake-up ended in complete reorganization. A new Associated Press was incorporated in Illinois, with Melville Stone as general manager. Stone made exchange contracts with foreign news agencies like Reuters and recruited so many papers to the AP fold that by 1897 the United Press was forced into bankruptcy.

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