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Hot Off the Wire: Understanding the Associated Press and other News Services: Overview


AP Images

AP images is an archive of  primary sources gathered by the Associated Press during it's 160 year history. It includes more than:

  • Two million photographs. dating back to 1826.
  • One million audio sound bytes dating from the 1920’s.
  • Two million Associated Press news stories from 1997.
  • 45,000 professionally produced maps, graphs, charts, logos, flags, illustrations, etc.
  • Updated with more than 3,000 photos every day.

Top Headlines from the AP

Top Headlines from the AP Wire

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The Associated Press. Retrieved February 20,2014, from

Dover, M. (2007). Web News AggregationEcontent30(6), 48-53.

Farhi, P. (2009). A Costly Mistake?American Journalism Review31(2), 36-41.

Monopoly Means End of a Free Press. (1943). Saturday Evening Post216(20), 112.

Perrucci, D. (1997). Celebrating AP's 150 yearsEditor & Publisher130(47), 20.

Silberstein-Loeb, J. (2012). Exclusivity and Cooperation in the Supply of News: The Example of the Associated Press, 1893–1945Journal Of Policy History24(3), 466-498. doi:10.1017/S0898030612000140

Ricchiardi, S. (2007). Covering the WorldAmerican Journalism Review29(6), 32-38.

Taylor, A. (Nov 21, 2013). As It Happened: AP Wire Copy of the JFK AssassinationThe Atlantic. Retrieved from:

Tscherne, J. W. (2007). Breaking News: How the Associated Press Has Covered War, Peace, and Everything Else.Library Journal132(14), 144-145.

Hot Off the Wire

What does it mean to say that news is "hot off the wire?" 

A news wire is a means of  electronically transmitting news and information updates as they occur.  The term "wire" dates back to an association with the telegraph wire, the first efficient means of transferring information across great distances. News wire services prepare hard news for distribution to subscribing members. Reporters working for the wire, as well as affiliated member organizations, investigate, write and file stories that are then available for publication by any member of the service (with or without local editing).  

The Associated Press is one of the oldest and largest news wire services in the world.  The organization is comprised of 242 buearus in more than 70 countries, worldwide.  Operating as a nonprofit cooperative, the agency provides text, images and graphics to over 6,700 newspapers, radio stations and television outlets in the U.S., as well as more than 8,500 international subscribers. The Associated Press has won over 45 Pulitzer Prizes, and it is considered by many as one of the most credible sources of non-biased reporting in the world. 

The AP Images database offers schools and libraries the opportunity to gain access to current images posted to the wire, as well as a rich archives of multimedia resources posted since the mid-19th century. 

Other news wire services you may encounter:

All Headline News (U.S. based corporate agency)
Associated Press (U.S. based nonprofit cooperative)
Agence France-Presse (French based)
Information Telegraph Agency of Russia (government owned)
Press Association (U.K. based nonprofit cooperative)
Reuters (U.K. based public corporation)
United Press International (U.S. based)
Xinhua (governement owned in China)

Associated Press Timeline

Timeline of the Associated Press

1848 The NYAP forms, allowing 6 NYC newspaper publishers to cooperatively share the cost of gathering and delivering news via express routes, circumventing the U.S. Postal Service.
1875 The NYAP leases a telegraph wire linking New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., dedicated specifically news transmission.
1893 Regional AP agencies are united into the first national press association, The Associated Press.
1899 The wireless telegraph is first used.
1900 Following accusations of monopoly and a Supreme Court ordered reorganization, theAssociated Press incorporates as a nonprofit cooperative. 
1906 Associated Press implements the news "flash" to signify important breaking news.
1914 The development of "teletype" allows the AP to transmit news via keyboards to printers worldwide at a rate of 60-words-per minute. 
1920 First broadcast of news on radio, fed by AP wire. 
1927 News Photo service begins, mailing feature stories and photos to members. 
Overseas branches of the AP are set up in Europe
1935 First photographs transmitted by the Associated Press across their Wirephoto network on the same day that they were taken.
1945 Membership to the AP is opened for all news organizations wishing to join. Famous photograph of U.S. Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima.
1951 A teletypesetter links Asia and North America.
1954 Associated Press Radio-Television Association is formed.
1962 The AP links all U.S. Teletypesetters together.
1967 The AP partners with Dow Jones to offer business news wire.
1972 Computer Cathod Ray Tubes (CRT) are used to file stories to the wire.
1974 Datastream launched by the AP, allowing the transmission of 1,200 words per minute.
1976 LaserPhoto introduced by AP to transmit laser scanned photos.
1979 The AP implements the first "electronic darkroom" to electronically crop, format, and transmit photos.
1982 The Associated Press purchases it's own satellite transponder.
1989 A graphics division of the AP is formed to create and deliver maps and charts via computer.
1990 The AP launches PhotoStream satellite delivery service.  
1994 APTV, an international video newsgathering service, is launched.
1996 AP works with other agencies to deliver text, audio, and video via desktop computer terminal. The launches it's internet service, The WIRE.
1997 The Associated Press launches Photo Archive on the Internet. 

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