by Grant Morgan
The shock announcement this week that Australia’s national news agency AAP will close its doors after 85 years is a crushing blow for those of us that still value the well written word.
I owe much of my early career development to an amazing period I spent at AAP in the companies racing division in the 90’s.
AAP has long been recognised as the most accurate and trustworthy source of news and information. The company has been staffed by an incredible array of talented people over its long history. AAP has served as a wonderful nurturing ground for a variety of careers, not just journalism.
The companies racing division has played a massive role in the dissemination of racing news and information. The form, fields and pre post markets we all take for granted in our daily newspapers all come from AAP. And it has done well before the internet was even thought about.
I can’t speak highly enough about the quality of people I worked with at AAP. Dedicated, professional, passionate and talented. It’s incredibly sad that some shortly won’t have jobs. Many of the people I worked with more than 20 years ago are still at AAP today.
This week some 180 staff will be directly impacted by the closure, and a further 100 outside contractors.
For those of you that don’t know much about the history of AAP, you should take the time brush up.
The most important thing you need to know is that AAP reports just the facts - without bias or opinion. In this day of misinformation and ‘fake news’, I think the core AAP values are more important than ever. You could always trust the information within a story that contained an AAP byline.
Without delving into too much history, AAP was founded in 1935 by Sir Keith Murdoch, father of Rupert Murdoch.
Despite being strange bedfellows, the Murdoch families News Ltd group combined with rivals Fairfax (now owned by Channel 9) to share in the ownership of AAP. The fundamental ingredient for the partnership was to pool its resources to produce news, and later information to share across the various mastheads throughout Australia.
Joining News and Fairfax was The Western Australian Newspaper as a co-owners of AAP.
It’s an absolute disgrace the Murdoch family with its wealth and power could sit idle and allow this to happen.
Equally infuriating is that Channel Nine could play a part in the demise of this great Australian institution. I guess it clears the way for Nine to serve more of the trash we now see on TV, in our daily newspapers.
Perhaps the liberal cross-media ownership rules aren’t all they are cracked up to be?
If this is the type of result we can expect, it seems decent journalism and print media in Australia are both on the critical list.
I do hope the AAP racing division can be salvaged.
I still use the Form Analyser and Horse Search services from AAP . I helped design both products before venturing into the brave world of self employment. They operate in much the same way I left them 18 years ago. They’ve stood the test of time, and I’m very happy to keep paying for them every month.
But therein sits the problem. Most people aren’t as prepared to pay for quality news and information anymore.
I grew up in a time where this data was valuable. You could trust it. And put your ‘hard earned’ ‘on’, because of it.
Today, there are very few media outlets left that I would have my last dollar on.
My thoughts go out to the racing team at AAP this week, headed by long time AAP staffer Caryl Williamson.