In May 1846, five New York City newspapers joined forces – spearheaded by New York Sun publisher Moses Yale Beach – to get news from the distant Mexican-American War. The consortium that we now know as Associated Press was founded with the mission “to gather with economy and efficiency an accurate and impartial report of the news,” an innovation in journalism at a time when most major newspapers took a strictly partisan editorial stance.
Impartiality wasn’t the only innovation. In 1914, Associated Press introduced the “telegraph typewriter” or teletype into newsrooms across the U.S. That, and the later launch of its Wirephoto network which transmitted images the same day as they were taken, gave AP a major advantage over other news media outlets.
The AP is also the only news organization that collects and verifies national and local election results in every city and county across the country. News outlets rely on the polling data and results provided by the Associated Press before declaring winners in major political races, notably the presidential election.
Sports fans have relied on AP’s college football rankings since 1936, and its college basketball poll is the go-to source for which teams deserve national attention.
And while writers have several style guides upon which to rely, the venerable AP Stylebook produced as a guide for reporters and now in its 55th edition, remains the grammar and punctuation bible for writers in broadcasting, magazine publishing, corporate communications departments and public relations firms like RLF.
Happy birthday, AP!