AP Expands Entertainment News Coverage

Dan Becker (L) and Lou Ferrara answer EPPS media workshop questions.

Top brass talk about expanding entertainment coverage in New York and Los Angeles, Ca.

AP expands entertainment news coverage – emphasis on ‘news’

By George McQuade, West Coast Bureau Chief, www.ODwyerpr.com

AP’s Dan Becker (left) & Lou Ferrara in Hollywood at EPPS media workshop

“Our reports are always going to be accurate, balanced and informed,” said AP’s Dan Becker.


Dave Germain (left) does all things movies and Mike Cidoni books and all things entertainment.

EPPS Panel in Hollywood on AP's entertainment news coverage. Photos by George S. Mc Quade III

 The presentation took place at a media workshop  of the International Cinematographers Guild in  Hollywood, hosted by the Entertainment  Publicists Professional Society. Lou Ferrara,  managing editor for sports, entertainment and  multimedia in New York, said the AP is expanding  its entertainment news coverage with an  emphasis on the news value of entertainment  stories. This one of a few news agency that is not 
cutting staff, but expanding.  

 Dave Germain & Mike Cidoni, AP Entertainment

Associated Press entertainment editors and reporters gathered in Los Angeles this month to introduce the wire service’s ambitious new approach to entertainment news coverage.

The presentation took place at a media workshop of the International Cinematographers Guild in Hollywood, hosted by the Entertainment Publicists Professional Society. Lou Ferrara, managing editor for sports, entertainment and multimedia in New York, said the AP is expanding its entertainment news coverage with an emphasis on the news value of entertainment stories.

Ferrara told Entertainment Publicists, \

 (Lou Ferrara picture (left)

 “We think entertainment is important, that the coverage of it is  important, and it’s relevant in our society,” Ferrara said. “And we can  be the best, the most accurate, and the first with the news and  entertainment.

 The panel was moderated by Joe Schlosser,
senior vice president, Communications,
NBC-Universal Television Studio Distribution.

Steve Loeper, administrative news editor in AP’s Los Angeles bureau, said the news service’s worldwide staff of thousands of journalists stands ready to back up its core of entertainment reporters on big entertainment stories such as the recent fire on the Universal Studios backlot.

“The bureau is here to back up AP’s entertainment division to tell the story right with a high amount of accuracy,” said Loeper.


Steve Loeper talks about entertainment coverage in Hollywood at EPPS media workshop.

Steve Loeper, AP, Los Angeles

Ferrara said the organization is “going through deep and vast changes, and I can’t underestimate how profound they are for the AP.”

“We have become a digital organization,” he said. “All formats are represented and we deliver the world in video, text, multimedia, photos, your name it.”

Entertainment Publicists learn first hand about AP editors

Speaking to the PR pros attending the media workshop, Ferrara emphasized that AP wants to distinguish its entertainment coverage from other, similar, content by reporting entertainment news on the record – a sometimes challenging notion in a field in which publicists for stars and studios have become accustomed to planting stories on background.”

In a recent high-profile example of the potential pitfalls for off-the-record attribution, a TV tabloid show reported that Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie had given birth to twins – a report that turned out to be false.


Entertainment Publicist Professional Society (EPPS) hear NY and LA's finest entertainment writersd and editors talk about best pitches and how to get on the Associated Press wire service circuit.The staff is going to be hounding you and you hound them, give it to us on the record, it really makes life a lot easier," Ferrara said. "I realize you all dealing with sensitive situations, but it really makes a difference in being able to do a job accurately. There have been several stories where bad information got out there. The AP has been a victim of that, you guys have been a victim of that and the industry has been a victim of that.”

The AP’s Dan Becker told PR pros the news service’s intention is to deliver a high quality, reliable and objective entertainment report.

“Our reports are always going to be accurate, balanced and informed,” said Becker. “That’s the core of what AP’s banner will always be and bringing that to entertainment.”

Becker said one billion people see AP content on any given day, visiting some of the largest online portals, including Yahoo! and MSN.

“We have 243 bureaus based in 97 countries,” Becker said.

The largest and oldest news organization in the world began hiring new entertainment division employees in January. Becker said the AP, as of June, had 70 editorial employees dedicated to entertainment coverage.

The presentation included practical advice on pitching story ideas. 

“First and foremost, we want you to think of AP when breaking news,” said Becker. “We want you to pitch us, we want high profile news, we want to break it and we want to be exclusive. We don’t just want to break news and be exclusive in a text world. We want exclusive photography, exclusive video, and exclusive opportunities for sit down interviews. We are in a multimedia world.” 

Becker said the “most effective way for AP to tell the story” is through a combination of text, photo and video.

“So no longer will you be dealing with just a text person, photo person or video person. And no longer with a text person who just understands text, or a photo person photo or video person video. We are going to work with you to tell the story across all platforms.”

Becker stressed that the quality of AP’s coverage would depend largely on access to newsmakers.

“At so many events the story is happening inside, and so many times news agencies are held outside of the event,” he said. “It is only part of the story. We need to be inside.”

(L-R) Sandy Cohen, Guinevere Smith, Susan Katz, Associated Press explaihn what publicists need to do to get on AP\'s radar.

 AP personnel advised PR pros to be sure to provide reliably  accurate information when dealing with the news service  and said e-mail is the preferred method for sending pitches  for most writers and editors – with plenty of lead time for  event coverage planning. Publicists need not call AP to see  if a routine e-mail or fax has been received.

 Last-minute pitches are generally more difficult to    consider, and publicists can improve efficiency by using AP   Entertainment’s contact sheet. (Multiple pitching to  various  AP writers is acceptable, but if AP passes on a    particular  story, please do not pitch it elsewhere in the AP. 

EPPS Media Workshop AP NY/LA bureaus.

AP wants to be first. Exclusive pitches will always get AP’s attention.
Best AP e-mail contacts:

  1. General Event Media Advisories – U.S. USentplan@ap.org
  2. General Event Media Advisories – Int’l. INTentplan@ap.org
  3. Entertainment Film Coverage Film@ap.org
  4. Entertainment Music Coverage Music@ap.org
  5. Entertainment Television Coverage TV@ap.org

The AP features a massive digital photo network, a continuously updated online news service, a television news service and one of the largest radio networks in the United States. The outlet offers RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Associated Press is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.ap.org.

Images upon request, story with images @Publicity@mayocommunications.com 

MAYO Communications “We Don’t guarantee media, we just get it!” 


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