Associated Press

Last updated

Associated Press
Type Non-profit cooperative [1]
Industry News media
FoundedMay 22, 1846;175 years ago (1846-05-22) [2]
Area served
Key people
Products Wire service
RevenueDecrease2.svg US$510.135 million (2017) [3]
Decrease2.svg $1.593 million (2017) [3]
Number of employees

The Associated Press (AP) is an American non-profit news agency headquartered in New York City. Founded in 1846, it operates as a cooperative, unincorporated association. Its members are U.S. newspapers and broadcasters. News reports that it distributes to its members and customers are produced in English, Spanish, and Arabic. The AP has earned 54 Pulitzer Prizes, including 32 for photography, since the award was established in 1917. It is also known for publishing the widely used AP Stylebook .


The AP has been tracking vote counts in U.S. elections since 1848, including national, state and local races down to the legislative level in all 50 states, along with key ballot measures. The AP collects and verifies returns in every county, parish, city and town across the U.S., and declares winners in over 5,000 contests.

By 2016, news collected by the AP was published and republished by more than 1,300 newspapers and broadcasters. [4] The AP operates 248 news bureaus in 99 countries. [5] It also operates the AP Radio Network, which provides newscasts twice hourly for broadcast and satellite radio and television stations. Many newspapers and broadcasters outside the United States are AP subscribers, paying a fee to use AP material without being contributing members of the cooperative. As part of their cooperative agreement with the AP, most member news organizations grant automatic permission for the AP to distribute their local news reports. The AP traditionally employed the "inverted pyramid" formula for writing, a method that enables news outlets to edit a story to fit its available publication area without losing the story's essentials, although in 2007, then-AP President Tom Curley called the practice "dead". [6]


Logo on the former AP Building in New York City The associated press building in new york city.jpg
Logo on the former AP Building in New York City

The Associated Press was formed in May 1846 [7] by five daily newspapers in New York City to share the cost of transmitting news of the Mexican–American War. [8] The venture was organized by Moses Yale Beach (1800–68), second publisher of The Sun , joined by the New York Herald , the New York Courier and Enquirer , The Journal of Commerce , and the New York Evening Express . [9] Some historians [10] believe that the New-York Tribune joined at this time; documents show it was a member in 1849. The New York Times became a member shortly after its founding in September 1851. Initially known as the New York Associated Press (NYAP), the organization faced competition from the Western Associated Press (1862), which criticized its monopolistic news gathering and price setting practices. An investigation completed in 1892 by Victor Lawson, editor and publisher of the Chicago Daily News , revealed that several principals of the NYAP had entered into a secret agreement with United Press, a rival organization, to share NYAP news and the profits of reselling it. The revelations led to the demise of the NYAP and in December 1892, the Western Associated Press was incorporated in Illinois as the Associated Press. A 1900 Illinois Supreme Court decision (Inter Ocean Publishing Co. v. Associated Press)—that the AP was a public utility and operating in restraint of trade—resulted in AP's move from Chicago to New York City, where corporation laws were more favorable to cooperatives. [11]

When the AP was founded, news became a saleable commodity. The invention of the rotary press allowed the New-York Tribune in the 1870s to print 18,000 papers per hour. During the Civil War and Spanish–American War, there was a new incentive to print vivid, on-the-spot reporting. Melville Stone, who had founded the Chicago Daily News in 1875, served as AP General Manager from 1893 to 1921. He embraced the standards of accuracy, impartiality, and integrity. The cooperative grew rapidly under the leadership of Kent Cooper (served 1925–48), who built up bureau staff in South America, Europe and (after World War II), the Middle East. He introduced the "telegraph typewriter" or teletypewriter into newsrooms in 1914. In 1935, AP launched the Wirephoto network, which allowed transmission of news photographs over leased private telephone lines on the day they were taken. This gave AP a major advantage over other news media outlets. While the first network was only between New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, eventually AP had its network across the whole United States. [12]

In 1945, the Supreme Court of the United States held in Associated Press v. United States that the AP had been violating the Sherman Antitrust Act by prohibiting member newspapers from selling or providing news to nonmember organizations as well as making it very difficult for nonmember newspapers to join the AP. The decision facilitated the growth of its main rival United Press International, headed by Hugh Baillie from 1935 to 1955.

AP entered the broadcast field in 1941 when it began distributing news to radio stations; it created its own radio network in 1974. In 1994, it established APTV, a global video newsgathering agency. APTV merged with WorldWide Television News in 1998 to form APTN, which provides video to international broadcasters and websites. In 2004, AP moved its world headquarters from its longtime home at 50 Rockefeller Plaza to a huge building at 450 West 33rd Street in Manhattan—which also houses the New York Daily News and the studios of New York's public television station, WNET. In 2019, AP had more than 240 bureaus globally. [5] Its mission—"to gather with economy and efficiency an accurate and impartial report of the news"—has not changed since its founding, but digital technology has made the distribution of the AP news report an interactive endeavor between AP and its 1,400 U.S. newspaper members as well as broadcasters, international subscribers, and online customers.

The AP began diversifying its news gathering capabilities and by 2007 AP was generating only about 30% of its revenue from United States newspapers. 37% came from the global broadcast customers, 15% from online ventures and 18% came from international newspapers and from photography. [13]

Web resources

The AP's multi-topic structure has resulted in web portals such as Yahoo! and MSN posting its articles, often relying on the AP as their first source for news coverage of breaking news items. This and the constant updating evolving stories require has had a major impact on the AP's public image and role, giving new credence to the AP's ongoing mission of having staff for covering every area of news fully and promptly. The AP was also the news service used on the Wii's News Channel. [14] In 2007, Google announced that it was paying to receive Associated Press content, to be displayed in Google News, [15] though this was interrupted from late 2009 to mid-2010, due to a licensing dispute. [16] [17]

A 2017 study by NewsWhip revealed that AP content was more engaged with on Facebook than content from any individual English-language publisher. [18]


Election polls

The AP is the only organization that collects and verifies election results in every city and county across the United States, including races for the U.S. president, the Senate and House of Representatives, governor as well as other statewide offices. [29] Major news outlets rely on the polling data and results provided by the Associated Press before declaring a winner in major political races, particularly the presidential election. [30] In declaring the winners, the AP has historically relied on a robust network of local reporters with first-hand knowledge of assigned territories who also have long-standing relationships with county clerks as well as other local officials. Moreover, the AP monitors and gathers data from county websites and electronic feeds provided by states. The research team further verifies the results by considering demographics, number of absentee ballots, and other political issues that may have an effect on the final results. [29] In 2018, the AP has introduced a new system called AP VoteCast, which was developed together with NORC at the University of Chicago in order to further improve the reliability of its data and overcome biases of its legacy exit poll. [31]

Recognized for its integrity and accuracy, the organization has collected and published presidential election data since 1848. [32] During the 2016 election, the AP was 100% accurate in calling the president and congressional races in every state. [29] After declaring Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 United States presidential election on November 7, 2020, the organization and its methodology came under close scrutiny,[ citation needed ] as incumbent president Donald Trump refused to concede and claimed the election was "rigged". [33] During the 2016 presidential election, when the AP declared Trump's victory against Hillary Clinton at 2:29AM on Wednesday, November 9, Trump did not contest the results and delivered his victory speech at 2:50AM the same night. [34]

Sports polls

The AP conducts polls for numerous college sports in the United States. The AP college football rankings were created in 1936, and began including the top 25 teams in 1989. Since 1969, the final poll of each season has been released after all bowl games have been played. [35] The AP released its all-time Top 25 in 2016. [36] As of 2017, 22 different programs had finished in the number one spot of the poll since its inception. [37] In the pre-bowl game determination era, the AP poll was often used as the distinction for a national champion in football.

The AP college basketball poll has been used as a guide for which teams deserve national attention. The poll first began its poll of college basketball teams in 1949, and has since conducted over 1,100 polls. The college basketball poll started with 20 teams and was reduced to 10 during the 1960-61 college basketball season. It returned to 20 teams in 1968-69 and expanded to 25 beginning in 1989–90. The final poll for each season is released prior to the conclusion of the NCAA tournament, so all data includes regular season games only. [38] In 2017, The AP released a list of the Top 100 teams of all time. The poll counted poll appearances (one point) and No. 1 rankings (two points) to rank each team. [39]

Sports awards


The AP began its Major League Baseball Manager of the Year Award in 1959, for a manager in each league. [40] From 1984 to 2000, the award was given to one manager in all of MLB. [41] The winners were chosen by a national panel of AP baseball writers and radio men. The award was discontinued in 2001. [40]


Every year, the AP releases the names of the winners of its AP College Basketball Player of the Year and AP College Basketball Coach of the Year awards. It also honors a group of All-American players.


Associated Press Television News

The APTN Building in London APTNheadquarter.jpg
The APTN Building in London

In 1994, London-based Associated Press Television (APTV) was founded to provide agency news material to television broadcasters. [42] In 1998, AP purchased Worldwide Television News (WTN) from the ABC News division of The Walt Disney Company, Nine Network Australia and ITN London. [42] [43] AP publishes 70,000 videos and 6,000 hours of live video per year, as of 2016. The agency also provides five simultaneous live video channels, AP Direct via satellite for broadcasters, and four live channels on AP Live Choice for digital publishers. AP was the first news agency to launch a live video news service in 2003. [44]

Litigation and controversies

Kidnapping of Tina Susman

In 1994, Tina Susman was on her fourth trip to Somalia, reporting for the AP. She was reporting on U.S. peacekeeping troops leaving the country. Somali rebels outnumbered her bodyguards in Mogadishu, [45] dragged her from her car in broad daylight, [46] and held her for 20 days. She told The Quill that she believes being a woman was an advantage in her experience there. [47] The AP had requested news organizations including The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Post to suppress the story to discourage the emboldening of the kidnappers. [46] [48]

Christopher Newton

In September 2002, Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Christopher Newton, an AP reporter since 1994, was fired after he was accused of fabricating sources since 2000, including at least 40 people and organizations. Prior to his firing, Newton had been focused on writing about federal law-enforcement while based at the Justice Department. Some of the nonexistent agencies quoted in his stories included "Education Alliance", the "Institute for Crime and Punishment in Chicago", "Voice for the Disabled", and "People for Civil Rights". [49]

FBI impersonation case

In 2007, an FBI agent working in Seattle impersonated an AP journalist and infected the computer of a 15-year old suspect with a malicious surveillance software. [50] [51] The incident sparked a strongly worded statement from the AP demanding the bureau never impersonate a member of the news media again. [52] In September 2016 the incident resulted in a report by the Justice Department, which the AP said "effectively condone[d] the FBI's impersonation". [53] [54]

In December 2017, following a US court appearance, a judge ruled in favor of the AP in a lawsuit against the FBI for fraudulently impersonating a member of the news media. [55] [56]

In August 2005, Ken Knight, a Louisiana photographer, sued the AP claiming that it had willfully and negligently violated Knight's copyright by distributing a photograph of celebrity Britney Spears to various media outlets including, but not limited to: truTV (formerly CourtTV), America Online and Fox News. [57] The case was settled in November 2006.

In a case filed February 2005, McClatchey v. The Associated Press, a Pennsylvania photographer sued the AP for cropping a picture to remove the plaintiff's embedded title and copyright notice and later distributed it to news organizations without the plaintiff's permission or credit. The parties settled. [58]

Fair-use controversy

In June 2008, the AP sent numerous DMCA take down demands and threatened legal action against several blogs. The AP contended that the internet blogs were violating AP's copyright by linking to AP material and using headlines and short summaries in those links. Many bloggers and experts noted that the use of the AP news fell squarely under commonly accepted internet practices and within fair-use standards. [59] Others noted and demonstrated that AP routinely takes similar excerpts from other sources, often without attribution or licenses. AP responded that it was defining standards regarding citations of AP news. [60]

Shepard Fairey

In March 2009, the Associated Press counter-sued artist Shepard Fairey over his famous image of Barack Obama, saying the uncredited, uncompensated use of an AP photo violated copyright laws and signaled a threat to journalism. Fairey had sued the AP the previous month over his artwork, titled "Obama Hope" and "Obama Progress", arguing that he did not violate copyright law because he dramatically changed the image. The artwork, based on an April 2006 picture taken for the AP by Mannie Garcia, was a popular image during the 2008 presidential election and now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. According to the AP lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan, Fairey knowingly "misappropriated The AP's rights in that image". The suit asked the court to award AP profits made off the image and damages. Fairey said he looked forward to "upholding the free expression rights at stake here" and disproving the AP's accusations.[ citation needed ] In January 2011 this suit was settled with neither side declaring their position to be wrong but agreeing to share reproduction rights and profits from Fairey's work. [61]

Hot News

In January 2008, Associated Press sued competitor All Headline News (AHN) claiming that AHN allegedly infringed on its copyrights and a contentious "quasi-property" right to facts. [62] [63] The AP complaint asserted that AHN reporters had copied facts from AP news reports without permission and without paying a syndication fee. After AHN moved to dismiss all but the copyright claims set forth by AP, a majority of the lawsuit was dismissed. [64] The case has been dismissed and both parties settled. [65]

In June 2010, Associated Press was accused [66] of having unfair and hypocritical policies after it was demonstrated that AP reporters had copied original reporting from the "Search Engine Land" website without permission, attribution, or credit. [67]

"Illegal immigrant"

In April 2013, AP stated that it had dropped the term "illegal immigrant" from its AP Stylebook. AP followed ABC, NBC, and CNN in not using the term. Jose Antonio Vargas commended the Associated Press for its decision. [68]

Syndicated writer Ruben Navarrette criticized the decision, stating the reasoning behind the decision was political correctness and called the blog "incomprehensible". [69] Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said of the decision, that she does not get involved in "vocabulary wars" and then stated "They are immigrants who are here illegally, that's an illegal immigrant." [70]

Hoax tweet and flash crash

On April 23, 2013, the AP's Twitter account was hacked to release a hoax tweet about fictional attacks in the White House that left President Obama injured. [71]

Justice Department subpoena of phone records

On May 13, 2013, the Associated Press announced telephone records for 20 of their reporters during a two-month period in 2012, had been subpoenaed by the U.S. Justice Department and described these acts as a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into news-gathering operations. [72] [73] The AP reported that the Justice Department would not say why it sought the records, but sources stated that the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia's office was conducting a criminal investigation into a May 7, 2012 AP story about a CIA operation that prevented a terrorist plot to detonate an explosive device on a commercial flight. [74] The DOJ did not direct subpoenas to the AP, instead going to their phone providers, including Verizon Wireless. [75] U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder testified under oath in front of the House Judiciary Committee that he recused himself from the leak investigations to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. Holder said his Deputy Attorney General, James M. Cole, was in charge of the AP investigation and would have ordered the subpoenas. [76]

African climate activist cropped from a photo

In January 2020, AP cropped Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate out from a photo she appeared in featuring her with Greta Thunberg and activists Luisa Neubauer, Isabelle Axelsson, and Loukina Tille after they all attended the World Economic Forum in Davos. [77] [78] Nakate accused the "various" outlets of doing so out of racist motives. [78] Associated Press later changed the photo and indicated there was no ill intent, and apologized. [79]

AP deal with Nazi Germany

The AP gave the Nazi regime access to its photo archives for its antisemitic propaganda. [80]

Investigators (chiefly Norman Domeier of the University of Vienna) have in recent years brought to wider attention the deal between Associated Press and the German government related to the interchange of press photos during the period in which the United States was at war with Germany. This relationship involved the Bureau Laux, run by the photographer Helmut Laux. [81]

The mechanism for this interchange was that a courier flew to Lisbon and back each day transporting photos from and for Germany's wartime enemy, the US, via diplomatic pouch. The transactions were initially conducted at the AP bureau under Luiz Lupi in Lisbon, and from 1944, when the exchange via Lisbon took too long, also at the AP bureau in Stockholm under Eddie Shanke. Here, as a cover, the Swedish agency, Pressens Bild  [ sv ], was involved as an intermediary. An estimated 40,000 photos were exchanged between the enemies in this way. [82]

Israeli–Palestinian conflict

In his book Broken Spring: An American-Israeli Reporter's Close-up View of How Egyptians Lost Their Struggle for Freedom, former AP correspondent Mark Lavie claimed that the editorial line of the Cairo bureau was that the conflict was Israel's fault and the Arabs and Palestinians were blameless. [83] [84] [85] Israeli journalist Matti Friedman accused AP of killing a story he wrote about the "war of words", "between Israel and its critics in human rights organizations", in the aftermath of the Israel/Gaza conflict of 2008–09. [83]

Tuvia Grossman photograph

On September 29, 2000, the first day of the Second Intifada, the Associated Press sent out of a photograph of a badly bloodied young man behind whom a police officer could be seen with a baton raised in a menacing fashion; a gas station with Hebrew lettering could also be seen in the background. [86] [87] [88] [89] The AP labelled it with the caption "An Israeli policeman and a Palestinian on the Temple Mount", and the picture and caption were subsequently published in several major American newspapers, including the New York Times and the Boston Globe. [86] [87] [88] [89] In reality, the injured man in the photograph was a Jewish yeshiva student from Chicago named Tuvia Grossman, and the police officer, a Druze named Gidon Tzefadi, was protecting Grossman from a Palestinian mob who had clubbed, stoned, and stabbed Grossman. [86] [87] [88] [89] There are also no gas stations with Hebrew lettering on the Temple Mount. [86] [87] [88] [89]

The episode is often cited by those who accuse the media of having an anti-Israel bias, and was the impetus for the founding of HonestReporting. [89] [90] [91] [92] [93] After a letter from Grossman's father noted the error, the AP, the New York Times, and other papers published corrections; despite these corrections, the photograph continues to be used by critics of Israel as a symbol of Israeli aggression and violence. [86] [88] [89] [94]

Israeli airstrike on AP office building

During the 2021 Israel–Palestine crisis, the Israeli army destroyed the al-Jalaa Highrise, a building housing AP's Gaza offices and Al Jazeera offices. Israel stated that the building housed Hamas military intelligence and had given advanced warning of the strike, and no civilians were harmed. [95] [96] Associated Press CEO Gary Pruitt released a statement on May 16, stating that he "had no indication Hamas was in the building" and called on the Israeli government to provide the evidence. He said that "the world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today." [97]

On 17 May, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had not seen any evidence that Hamas operated from the building housing the AP and Al Jazeera, but it is the job of others to handle intelligence matters. Israel reportedly shared intelligence with American officials and U.S President Biden showing Hamas offices inside the building. [98]

Reporters Without Borders asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the bombing as a possible war crime. [99]

On June 8, Israeli Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan met with AP CEO Gary Pruitt and vice president for foreign news, Ian Phillips, to discuss the operation. In coordination with the IDF, Erdan said the site was used by Hamas intelligence officials to develop and carry out SIGINT and electronic warfare operations, targeting both IDF and civilian systems in Israel, including devices to disrupt the Iron Dome. Erdan also said the Israeli government does not believe the AP was aware of the Hamas presence because it was a secret unit. He said the Israeli government was willing to help rebuild AP's offices and ensure they will be able to bring equipment into Gaza. [100]

Firing of Emily Wilder

Later that same week, the AP fired recently-hired journalist Emily Wilder, citing violations of the company's social media policies, after Wilder's pro-Palestinian statements during college days had been criticized by conservative media outlets. [101] [102] In the wake of her firing, many other journalists shared messages of solidarity with Wilder and criticized the AP for firing her. [101] [102] In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle , Wilder said that she had been the target of a "witch hunt" and a victim of "cancel culture" from conservatives, and said that despite her firing she did not regret any of her activism. [103] In a piece written for Politico , Janine Zacharia, one of Wilder's journalism professors at Stanford University who has reported on Middle Eastern affairs from Jerusalem for Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and The Washington Post, suggested that the attack on Ms Wilder was a pretext in a dis-information campaign intended to distract the news cycle from Israel's deliberate bombing of an AP office. [104]

Awards received

The AP has earned 54 Pulitzer Prizes, including 32 for photography, since the award was established in 1917. [105] In May 2020, Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan, and Channi Anand of the AP were honored with the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. [106] The choice caused controversy, [107] [108] [109] because it was taken by some as questioning "India's legitimacy over Kashmir" as it had used the word "independence" in regard to revocation of Article 370. [110]


The Associated Press is governed by an elected board of directors. [111] Since April 2017, the chairman is Steven Swartz, president and CEO of Hearst Communications.

Board of Directors
Steven R. Swartz (Chairman) Hearst Corporation
Donna J. Barrett CNHI
Richard A Boehne E. W. Scripps Company
Elizabeth Brenner The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Robert Brown Swift Communications
William Stacey Cowles The Spokesman-Review
Cowles Publishing Co.
Kirk Davis Gannett
Michael Golden The New York Times Company
Bill Hoffman Cox Media Group
Rob King ESPN
Terry J. Kroeger BH Media Group
The Omaha World-Herald
Isaac Lee Univision Communications
Fusion Media Group
Robin McKinney Martin The Santa Fe New Mexican and The Taos News
Gracia C. Martore Gannett
Jim M. Moroney III A. H. Belo
William O. Nutting The Ogden Newspapers Inc.
David M. Paxton Paxton Media Group
Patrick J. Talamantes McClatchy
Paul C. Tash Times Publishing Company

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