Out and about and talking to journos past and present, the conversation most often goes like this: ‘I got my start at AAP… ’ or ‘I have fond memories of my time working on the wire’.
For the past 85 years, the AAP newswire has been at the centre of nearly all newsrooms in this country, helping publishers fill column inches in their paper and helping broadcasters pump out their bulletins.
But for the thousands of reporters who have punched out their initials at the bottom of a story in all the years since, Australian Associated Press will hold some significance in their careers and in their hearts.
A training ground: where one learns to be an ‘expert’ at everything; and where speed is critical but never gives way to accuracy.
A career maker: where extraordinary circumstances force one to be resourceful, courageous and world first.
AAP is a place that does not suffer prima donnas.
Stories are alive every minute of every hour.
This demands teamwork. Everyone from the top to the bottom of the org chart mucks in to get the story right and to get it first.
We have seen former cadets and freelancers become metro masthead editors, bureau chiefs, broadcasters and media moguls.
The newswire newsroom is the great equaliser.
Humility starts here.
The spirit of AAP is defined by its long history of innovation, willingness to think big and a ‘can-do’ approach.
This is the company that designed a telecommunications schema on the back of a dinner napkin before it became a mobile network provider a few years later, reaping millions of dollars for its shareholders.
But for newsrooms, the newswire was at the cutting edge of text and photo transmission from the field; created a best-of-breed digital publishing platform; was an early adopter of content automation; set the benchmark for news planning and big news event coverage.
We reflect on AAP cadetship and training scheme; news discovery teams of interns; fact-checking unit; and its award-winning photo department.
I have worked with a lot of great journalists in a lot of great newsrooms over the years but none come close to the one at AAP.
There’s no bickering over who gets the story of the day; no gripes when an AAP byline goes missing from a published story or photo.
Genuinely, it’s a collectively embraced mission to tell stories exceptionally well.
No-fuss, no agenda and usually faster than anyone else.
AAP people have pride in their work and pride in each other. Our newswire’s culture is rare and it’s been that way for much of its history.
We innovate and we get things done.
On March 3 it was announced that Australian Associated Press would close later this year.
There were shock and tears but not 10 minutes after that news had been delivered, the news team was back at work. It was astounding.
151 days later, with a COVID-19 lockdown and the on-again, off-again interest from potential buyers for the news agency in between, our people just powered through it.
That is inspirational.
Today, many of those people sign off for the very last time.
Nonetheless, this has been an exhausting five months. There was so much work and barely a day off helping to get bidders over the line.
We take heart in that the AAP name and mission lives on and some jobs saved. As Editor in Chief for the past 16 years, I have been the newswire’s custodian.
It is a privilege that will live in my heart forever.
I am deeply saddened to be leaving Australian Associated Press but upset mostly to leave what we call “the AAP family”.
These are good people doing good work.
Today, one era ends and another begins – for Australia’s news agency and for all of the individuals who have served in it.
Signing off today:
Craig Brennan, Monique Butterworth, Darren Cartwright, Emily Cosenza, Laine Clark, Katina Curtis, Steven Deare, Matt Encarnacion, Tracey Ferrier, Christine Flatley, Dan Gilhooly, Ulises Izquierdo, Liza Kappelle, Sonia Kohlbacher, Rebecca Le May, Christine McGinn, Heather McNab, Peter Mitchell, Megan Neil, Mark Oberhardt, Finbar O’Mallon, Jason Phelan, Angie Raphael, Greg Roberts, Caroline Schelle, David Sigston, Marty Silk, Jodie Stephens, Mathew Toogood, Adrian Warren, Carly Waters, Ashlea Witoslawski, Steve Zemek.
Chris Barclay, Jason Cadden, Glenn Cullen, Julian Drape, Miranda Forster, Neil Harvey, Richard Hookham, Peta McCartney, Prashant Mehra, Paul Mulvey, Sasi Nair, Derek Rose, Gregg Tripp, Jo Williamson.
Scott Barbour, Neil Bennett, Paul Braven, Stuart Davis, Michael Dodge, Sean Fitzpatrick, Dan Hicks, Viki Lascaris, David Mariuz, Dan Peled, Steven Saphore, Marc Tewksbury.
MANAGEMENT AND COMMERCIAL
Akansha Bhola, Kristen Daly, Phil Dickson, James Dore, Cathy Drago, Melissa Garner, Camille Lane, Richard Lawson, Rebecca O’Neill, Sue O’Neill, Tom Tallarida, Tony Gillies.