CNN's new wire service, stories from which have been running in some newspapers on a trial basis for the past month, will hard-sell itself to newspapers at a conference this weekend, and the AP, which is already under siege from newspapers cranky about how much it costs, is nervous. The Times overheard AP president Tom Curley talking about it in a conference call with employees, sounding like he was sweating the arrival of some kind of monster.
"On the competitive side, CNN volunteered to be the first, but any number of people could have pulled the trigger," Mr. Curley told employees. "They’re coming off a very strong election cycle, they have extra money and they’re going to do it because they can."
Worse, he warned, it's a dumb, mean monster.
"The current CNN wire, if you look at it truly is still, and remarkably, abysmally written," he said. "However, they’re interviewing A.P. people, we know, and that can be transformed. And if you have enough money and you have enough ego and enough desire, you can fix that in a hurry."
Of course, the AP has more than 3,000 journalists in over 100 countries and some of the best photographers on the planet, and CNN has like ten journalists with laptops in ten cities, so the AP shouldn't sweat too much, at least not yet. But there is one thing they might be worried about: Anderson Cooper, whose columns and videos will become available to CNN subscribers. Those steely blue eyes could be the Helen of Troy for the 150-year-old news organization.