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SNS Closes Radio-Internet Operation

June 30, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ States News Service has closed the part of its operation that gathered news across the country for radio and the Internet. It took the move after learning some contributors were persistently pirating Associated Press material, Leland Schwartz, SNS president and editor, said Wednesday.

The service lost its only radio client, the ABC NewsWire, a product of the radio division of ABC News, as a result of the discovery, he said. The material also was distributed by Reuters to Internet Web sites and portals.

Schwartz said some part-time radio stringers were ``misusing AP copy in complete violation of our policy or our sense of fairness.″ In the worst cases, he said, they ``lifted parts or all of AP’s news summaries and used them as their own.″

The service employed 10 broadcast editors in Washington and used 65 to 75 part-time stringers around the country. Schwartz said the move does not affect the company’s core operation, 25 years old, of reporting Washington news of regional interest to newspapers.

AP monitored the published reports of States News Service and notified the parties of copyright violations and misappropriation issues related to AP’s intellectual property.

``We are exploring legal action against any parties who took or used AP information without a license to do so,″ said James R. Williams III, vice president and director of AP’s broadcast division.

Schwartz said after AP pointed out misuse of its written radio news reports earlier this year ``we made every attempt to make sure the stringers understood the rules, let alone journalistic honesty.″

``Unfortunately, a handful of them Janet Cooked us out of this business,″ he said. He was referring to the Washington Post reporter who fabricated stories that won a 1981 Pulitzer Prize, later withdrawn.

Schwartz said the company could not effectively control the way its state news stories outside Washington were collected unless it switched to a full-time staff. The 4-year-old service ceased Tuesday.

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