The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists. Many newspapers and broadcasters outside the United States are AP subscribers, paying a fee to use AP material without being contributing members of the cooperative.
As of 2005, the news collected by the AP is published and republished by more than 1,700 newspapers, in addition to more than 5,000 television and radio broadcasters. The photograph library of the AP consists of over 10 million images. The Associated Press operates 243 news bureaus, and it serves at least 120 countries, with an international staff located all over the world.
Associated Press also operates The Associated Press Radio Network, which provides newscasts twice hourly for broadcast and satellite radio and television stations. The AP Radio also offers news and public affairs features, feeds of news sound bites, and long form coverage of major events.
As part of their cooperative agreement with The Associated Press, most member news organizations grant automatic permission for the AP to distribute their local news reports. For example, on page two of every edition of The Washington Post, the newspaper's masthead includes the statement, "The Associated Press is entitled exclusively to use for re-publication of all news dispatches credited to it or not otherwise credited in this paper and all local news of spontaneous origin published herein."
The AP employs the "inverted pyramid formula" for writing that enables the news outlets to edit a story to fit its available publication area without losing the story's essential meaning and news information.
Cutbacks at longtime U.S. rival United Press International, most significantly in 1993, left the AP as the primary nationally oriented news service based in the United States, although United Press International still produces and distributes news stories daily. Other English-language news services, such as Reuters and the English-language service of Agence France-Presse, are based outside the United States. More recently launched internet news services, such as All Headline News (AHN) are becoming competitive to the traditional wire services like the AP.