More Old Media Embarassment: AP to Affiliate - No Soup For You!

So I'm a big Seinfeld fan, and one of my favorite characters from the series is the Soup Nazi.  For those unfamiliar with this Seinfeld character Wikipedia offers the following description:

"A stone-faced immigrant chef with a thick Stalin-esque moustache, he is renowned throughout Manhattan for his soups. He demands that all customers in his restaurant meticulously follow his strict queuing, ordering, and payment policies. Failure to adhere to his demands brings the admonishment, "No soup for you!", whereupon the customer is refunded and denied his or her order."

"No soup for you."  In 1995, that line became a pop  culture phenomenon and was used by just about everyone at one time or another to turn down a a request in an inconsiderate but somewhat funny manner.  Saying "no soup for you" is a lot like saying "I don't care that you're my customer even if you're acting very nice and going out of your way to let me know how much you want what I have. I'm going to not help you because I can and feel like being a jerk right now and like I said I don't care that you're my customer because I have plenty of those and oh yeah I know you want what I have that's why you're in line, stupid.".

Ouch, right? Being a customer and told "No Soup for You" sucks.  Completely.  

Well, that's basically what the A.P. said to an affiliate in response to the affiliate embedding video from the A.P.'s YouTube channel on their website.  TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld has written a great series of articles on this and the AP leading up a few days before the incident down through the A.P.'s response and apology.  
  •  04/06 - Behind the A.P.'s Plan to Become the Web's New Cop.  The A.P. announces that thy will "begin to police the web" and "developer a system to track content distributed online to determine if it is being legally used".  Their content includes articles, video, headlines, etc. Clearly, the A.P. feels the need to protect their content, and is looking to implement a means that allows them to -- much in the same manner as the RIAA and movie studios have done with music and video.
  • 04/07 - That Whining Sound You Hear is the Death Wheeze of Newspapers.  Similar to the A.P., newspapers are complaining these days about the Web "stealing" both content and subscribers - which is leading to the death of newspapers as we've come to know them.  To give you an idea where in the death march of business newspapers are, their industry contracted by $7.5 billion last year.  They blame the web, in some way, but also realize they need the web if they want to continue existing; and there lies the drama.  
  • 04/08 - A.P Exec Doesn't Know It Has a YouTube Channel: Threatens Affiliate for Embedding Videos.  Well, it looks like all this talk by the A.P. about "protecting our content" at the Wednesday morning scrum got one executive super motivated to make a statement.  A radio station in Tennessee received a warning from an A.P. vice president of affiliate relations for posting videos from A.P.'s YouTube channel.  The exchange between the A.P. and the affiliate deserves to be called what it is: embarrassing, humiliating, and a reflection of the disconnect in their organization.
  • 04/09 - The A.P. Apologizes, Admits to a "Misunderstanding of YourTube Usage".   What a difference twenty-four hours makes.  Doing an about-face that was nearly as quick as the one Facebook did when it changed their TOS, the A.P. apologized and said in an official statement "There was a misunderstanding of YouTube usage when the Tennessee radio station was contacted by the Associated Press regarding the A.P's more extensive online video services".  Apparently, the A.P was trying to recommend a better video service to their affiliate, and decided to make their point with a threatening e-mail.  Like Erick said, "at least they apologized".
This belongs on the Daily Show; that's how funny, real, and stupid this story has become.

If I worked at the A.P., I would be embarrassed, and not because of the negative PR this type of snafu creates.  Instead, my embarrassment would come from the fact that my organization, a world leading news organization no less, clearly is not on the same page with each other about its content and how it can be accessed.  Not only that,  my organization does not seem to know who can use our content and how it can be used.  If you were the A.P., wouldn't affiliates be one of the people that you would want embedding You Tube videos? 

This brings me back, full circle, to the Soup Nazi.  I'd like to think that the A.P. cares about their relationship with affiliates.  As the organization is aware of, news comes from more sources now than ever before.  New blogs appear every day.  To make or report news today, all you need is a Twitter account and 140 characters.  Instead of jumping off the deep end with "no soup for you", the A.P. should considering asking "How would you like your soup".  To everyone.  Soup (or news, in this case), is a commodity; you can get it everywhere, and there are plenty of sources willing to offer you a taste of their soup for free.   Be careful A.P. and other Old Media outlets, or you might be the one hearing "no soup for you" from your affiliates and consumers.

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