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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 01:18 PM ET, 03/22/2012

Does AP really reach half the world?

The release that the Associated Press (AP) issued yesterday felt like a classic production of the storied wire service. It announced the hiring of Gary Pruitt from the McClatchy Co. as the new AP president and CEO. The item had good quotes from Pruitt and others, excellent copy editing , solid facts — AP all the way.

Only the last sentence appeared something of a stretch:

On any given day, more than half of the world’s population sees news from AP.

That’s some healthy exposure. Have a look at a screenshot from just after 11 a.m. today of one of those world population counter sites:


Now for the math: If we halve that count, we get 3,520,962,589.5. But the AP is saying that it reaches “more” than half, meaning that at least 3,520,962,590.5 people must meet its content on any given day. That would put the AP on a par with the wind and the rain.

AP spokesperson Paul Colford gives this explanation for the data point:

Though we don’t list our customers publicly, our assertion is based on the fact that we are the leading video news agency worldwide and as such have direct relationships with all the main broadcasters in key international markets. Our APTN [AP Television News] Direct service gives customers live coverage from global breaking news events as they happen.

Nor would the wire service have thrown this stunning stat out there without a study behind it. AP completed several years ago what it terms a “proprietary aggregation report” of all the worldwide broadcasters that take AP video — and the numbers piled up. Precisely how it compiled those numbers is unclear, but there are reportedly more than 700 broadcasters and portals that traffic in AP video news.

Oh yeah, AP also provides news to 1,400 daily newspapers across the country, not to mention TV and radio stations and Web sites in the thousands.

By  |  01:18 PM ET, 03/22/2012

 
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