Why CNN is hosting a ‘newspaper summit’

WHY CNN IS HOSTING A ‘NEWSPAPER SUMMIT’…. This should be interesting.

CNN, in the afterglow of an election season of record ratings for cable news, is elbowing in on a new line of business: catering to financially strained newspapers looking for an alternative to The Associated Press.

For nearly a month, a trial version of CNN’s wire service has been on display in some newspapers. But this week editors from about 30 papers will visit Atlanta to hear CNN’s plans to broaden a service to provide coverage of big national and international events — and maybe local ones — on a smaller scale and at a lower cost than The A.P.

“The reality is we don’t have a lot of relationships with newspapers,” said Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide. “We have relationships with TV stations around the world.” Mr. Walton said the meeting this week, which CNN has billed the “CNN Newspaper Summit,” is “kind of a get-to-know-you.”

There’s an opportunity for the network here. Subscribing to the A.P. is expensive, and newspaper publishers have to be more than a little cost-conscious right now. Indeed, some newspapers have already announced their intention to drop the A.P., which seemed largely unthinkable as recently as a few years ago.

Given this, CNN sees an opening it hopes to exploit, and with a massive international team of journalists and considerable resources after a successful year, the cable network might even be able to pull it off.

Tom Curley, the president and chief executive of the A.P., said the CNN Wire, “if you look at it truly is still, and remarkably, abysmally written.” That’s probably a little strong, but the criticism is not without merit. But here’s the thing: if CNN is serious about becoming a credible A.P. rival, it can hire decent writers. It is, on other words, a problem that’s relatively easy to fix.

Something to keep an eye on.