A few questions lately from readers made me realize that folks don’t necessarily understand the Telegraph Herald’s relationship to The Associated Press, and I thought that might make for a good column topic and provide some clarity.

The TH, along with thousands of other newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, relies on AP wire service to provide news outside of our coverage area.

AP is far and away the most popular wire service among community newspapers like ours for a couple of reasons. 1) Although it’s a hefty monthly expense, it’s the most reasonable option for comprehensive coverage from sports box scores to international politics to statehouse news. 2) For a paper like ours that has readers in three different states, it would be very difficult and expensive to find other sources to supply basic news stories from all three states on a daily basis.

AP employs journalists in all 50 U.S. states and more than 100 countries around the globe. It is run as a not-for-profit cooperative with any revenue generated being plunged back into news coverage. On a typical day, AP will provide 2,000 stories and 3,000 photos.

Our relationship with AP is symbiotic; we are among the papers that contribute stories and photos from our coverage area for other papers to use. That’s why you might occasionally see a Dave Kettering photo in the Los Angeles Times or read a Kayli Reese feature in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Content from AP is a mix of stories generated by AP reporters and stories shared by member newspapers.

Each day, AP sends story digests: lists of the stories that editors can anticipate seeing that day. We get digests for national and international news, politics, each of the states we cover, arts and entertainment, business and sports. At the TH, we have our copy editors do the layout and design of our “wire” pages, meaning those that have AP wire news. Copy editors cull the wire and choose the top stories for publication in the paper, usually based on what’s listed on the AP digest.

Similarly, a few different editors post wire stories on our website throughout the day. All stories come with headlines already written by AP editors. For the web, we give each story a quick read and post it, usually with the headline provided. For print, the AP headline doesn’t always fit the space, so copy editors sometimes have to tinker with it or change it altogether to make it fit.

Some readers believe AP shows bias occasionally in political coverage, particularly about Washington politics. When I have concerns about the tone of an AP story, I reach out to a regional editor and talk it over. I have found AP to be receptive to my feedback and always interested to hear what readers are saying. Stories about politics represent a tiny percentage of all the content we receive and use from AP.

AP fills a critical role in our news content, from Iowa statehouse news to international stories and professional sports coverage.

But stories from The Associated Press are a small reason why readers engage with the Telegraph Herald — Our value, our mission and our top priority is covering local news from the tri-state area.

That is our expertise. If you want to know how local tax dollars are spent, what new businesses are opening, who won the game across town last night or what the curriculum looks like in local schools, we are your experts. For what’s going on in Springfield or Madison or Washington, D.C., or Myanmar, we need AP reporters. The vast majority of journalism resources at the TH are devoted to covering and accurately presenting local news.

If you’ve got questions about AP news or anything else in the TH, send me an email and I’ll do my best to answer.

Email Gilligan at amy.gilligan@thmedia.com.

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