The president and chief executive of one of the world’s leading news agencies – Associated Press – have been highlighting the immense speeding up of news dissemination across the globe.
In an interview with The Guardian, Tom Curley, who is stepping down after nine years in the post, said that when he was a cub reporter in the 1960s the news cycle – defined as the "period of time when all the people interested in a story had access to it" – was 12 hours.
"I would say until about 11 September, 2001 it was three hours. Now it's 30 minutes. You might say if you are a certain age – with Twitter and Facebook and all that type of stuff – it's three minutes.
“If we can win by two minutes, on just about every story we can charge a premium," says Curley. "Driving faster and faster is what we are still focused on. That hasn't changed."
A not-for-profit news co-operative owned by its American print and broadcast members, AP has 3,500 staff in more than 200 cities around the world.
According to The Guardian, revenues of $631m (£401m) in 2010 were 7% down on the previous year, the first time since the Great Depression that sales had fallen for two consecutive years. AP lost $14.7m as it lowered its fees to help newspapers and broadcasters cope with falling advertising revenues.
Curley forecasts no letup for newspapers in the short term. "I am very worried and I think the pace of change accelerates from here as the sophistication of mobile devices intensifies. All those saying the worst have happened and we are at a stable plateau, I don't buy it."
He is looking to video, the internet and mobile devices to boost future revenues, points out The Guardian, as well as better exploitation of its enormous archive. To this end AP will launch a new mobile app offering Twitter-style updates on breaking news.
Curley explains: "The purpose is to get in step with the social media flow of the news. In the past you would update a story 12 times in a 24-hour cycle. Now it's possible to update it 200 times, and each time you do that on the web it drives traffic."