Jeff Jarvis: AP Dispute "The Millennial Clash Of Media Models"

07/08/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Associated Press didn't know what it stepped in when it sent a lawyer's letter to the blog Drudge Retort (a Drudge Report parody) demanding that it take down headlines and excerpts from wire-service stories as short as 33 words long. This set off a blogstorm as many bloggers - me included - accused AP of the highest web crime: not getting it.

The confrontation ended in a stand-down with no precedents or policies set regarding copyright, fair use and blog excerpts. AP continues to use software called Attributor to find sites that quote its content so it can send such notices. Some bloggers vowed to boycott AP content, but quoting will continue.

In the midst of this skirmish, I realised we were witnessing the millennial clash of media models: the content economy v the link economy. AP, like the newspapers that own it, believes its value is in its articles and news. Well, that's obvious, isn't it? But online, where word spreads at the speed of a click, news and information are quickly commodified. And online, content is valueless if no one sees it: content that isn't linked is the tree that fell in the forest no one heard (or turned into print).

Links are the currency of the new media economy. We bloggers think we're doing AP and papers a favour when we link to their articles. I teach my journalism students that their headlines and intros are more important than ever because these are the advertisements that will draw people to click links and read more.

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