Remember a few weeks back when LAO posted the news on Associated Press muscling up its entertainment and celebrity overage out of the Los Angeles bureau? That announcement, a month after the bureau named Britney Spears an official priority, came from new "director of entertainment content" Dan Becker. Now he gives some details in a memo picked up by Nikki Finke. Sample:
There is overwhelming demand from customers and members for coverage of celebrity, movies and music. According to PQ Media, the market for outsourced entertainment news content is set to rise by 77% by 2011 to $960 million. So, increasing our entertainment coverage provides an opportunity to give them more of the content they want and to increase revenue at the same time. AP is uniquely positioned to become the definitive provider of entertainment news for all media formats largely because of our reputation for accurate, unbiased coverage. No other competitor can offer our reach or our unique global mix of daily video, photos and text coverage, as well as rich archives. In a world of single source providers, thatís an important advantage.
After the jump he insists AP's new devotion to celebrity coverage won't be "about gossip, unnamed sources and innuendo or about 'peephole' journalism:"
Itís about recognizing an opportunity to use our journalistic talent and unmatched network of resources to produce high quality, multimedia coverage in an area of growing interest. APís high editorial standards and news values will continue to be observed, honored and practiced. That makes good business sense, too: In a realm in which gossip and innuendo abound, particularly on the Web, our standards establish us as the trusted, authoritative voice on entertainment for all our members and customers.
What new products are currently being developed?
The entertainment vertical will focus on coverage that is most often requested by our members and customers Ė coverage of celebrities, movies and music Ė with an emphasis on photo and video products to meet the growing demands of the market. Future products will be developed and targeted for the online and broadcast markets, which are seen as the largest areas of growth. The first new content offering from the entertainment division will focus on celebrities and be heavily image driven. To that end, we will start ramping up celebrity coverage soon. The new initiative has already led to a new signing for AP, a deal to provide celebrity video for People.com.
What differences will staffers currently covering Entertainment notice in their day-to-day work?
There is no plan to shift reporters; beat reporters will stay focused on their assigned areas of coverage. Our goal is to free up the entertainment staff to develop sources and impact stories, break news and push for greater in-depth coverage across all platforms. To this end, Director of State News Training John Dowling is organizing two competitive reporting workshops for the text, photo, video and radio staff in Los Angeles, and we are encouraging the group to proactively seek involvement in areas outside their major disciplines.
Are there any staffing changes on the horizon?
We are planning for an additional 21 new employees in 2008 spread across Los Angeles, New York and London. In filling these positions, we will be looking at both internal and external candidates. Entertainment Editor Jesse Washington has restructured his primary editors to provide coverage from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern. The new schedule allows them to be more agile and aggressive, and to cover more of the crucial Los Angeles copy. Reporter Derrik Lang relocated to Los Angeles and began working a newly created celebrity beat. Additionally, Los Angeles expects to hire an entertainment writer in April who will work in the courthouse covering celebrity cases.