In an interview Friday before accepting the William Allen White National Citation at Kansas University, the chief executive of The Associated Press expressed optimism about the future of the news industry.
While the overall demand for news remains high, said Tom Curley, president and CEO of The AP, organizations will have to take advantage of new opportunities.
“Clearly, the largest challenge for all of us is to find digital revenues,” he said.
He said he is hearing increased talk among news executives about charging for digital content.
“More people are talking about that today, in February 2009, than there were in the last six months,” he said.
And the recent struggles aren’t just isolated for the media industry, he said.
“Everybody is suffering,” he said. “It’s a very, very grim moment for the economy.”
But even when the recession ends, he said, he anticipates newspapers will still exist, although in a smaller format, potentially involving more niche publications.
In the digital age, The AP is remaining vigilant in prosecuting copyright infringements for its content, with many of its photos and articles appearing online in other sources, Curley said. He called that “outright theft.”
The AP has had to hire a lot more lawyers with the advent of the Internet, and with content so easy to reproduce, he said.
Curley said that even in the current economy, journalism remains a viable field for young people to enter.
“You can’t jump out the window,” he said, adding that the overall market trend is tilting upward. “Somewhere in there is an opportunity.”