The Associated Press (AP) is a news service that provides content of all kinds to thousands of newspapers, radio stations, television networks and web sites. The Associated Press is the most commonly used of all news services.
With bureaus across America and the world, the AP generates articles, photos, graphics and video that is used by newspapers and other resources that pay to subscribe. There are different levels of subscriptions available, as some smaller newspapers might pay only for statewide news and major national news, while larger papers often pay to receive every bit of content the AP puts out.
The Associated Press allows news providers to utilize content from parts of the world they could otherwise never cover. It can also allow them to save money by not sending their own reporters and photographers to major local events. This is usually avoided by larger papers, though, because Associated Press articles and photos are available to readers for free on many web sites.
Large newspapers usually send their own reporters and photographers to major events to ensure they are providing unique content to paying subscribers. Still, as newspapers in particular face the difficulties created by the increase in popularity and content provided by online sources, the AP provides a cost-efficient alternative to actual journalistic manpower.
Formed in 1846, the Associated Press has won 48 Pulitzer Prizes including 29 photo Pulitzers, the most of any news organization. It is generally a respected source of news and photos, though its news stories can often feel formulaic. That's by design, though, as the formulaic nature of AP articles ideally allows them to be cut down to any length - to fit whatever space a newspaper wants to give them - without sacrificing clarity or readability.
According to www.ap.org, the Associated Press comprises 242 bureaus and employs 3,700 people worldwide. It serves 1,700 U.S. newspapers and 5,000 radio and TV outlets. There are also 8,500 international subscribers covering 121 total countries.