Associated Press and Google Base

The Associated Press is an anachronism.

The history of the AP traces back to a loose partnership between newspapers to receive far-flung information faster than they could afford to do individually. This was revolutionary in the times of the pony express and telegraphs. Times have changed. It is no longer quicker, easier, or more affordable for newspapers or their readers to rely on the AP as an intermediary.

Structured data is the manna of digital journalism. This isn't a new idea. Check here, here, and here if you need a refresher. The basic premise is that data can be blown apart and put together in an infinite number of new, interesting, and informative ways, which go beyond a what can be done in a single article.

Google Base is the service that allows anyone to place structured information online. From classified items, to personals, to recipes, to restaurant review, any information that has a name/value pair can be stored and shared.

What if the Associated Press were to adopt the Google Base strategy? Asking for newspapers to gather all of their structured information into one distributed database?

I'm imagining:

Restaurant Reviews
Local restaurant reviews for any region across the country, available to any newspaper. Which can be rebuilt locally into a detailed travel guide or a study about the spread of new cuisines across the nation (has Pho hit Omaha yet?)
The amount of money that is spent nationally by different newspaper groups to create new national classifieds vertical brands is staggering. Why not allow each newspaper to take that national data and reform it in a way that makes sense in their local market. Whether it is offering pricing examples for sellers or providing a nation-wide marketplace.
School Guides
Education is a national problem that is felt locally. What are other schools doing across the country to address this problem? What are the trends in new curriculum, where has it appeared, where is it working?

The point is that newspapers collect and destroy a tremendous amount of structured data each day, in the progress of smoothing it into a single narrative. By placing this structured data into a distributed database, others can re-imagine that information in new ways. This is much more interesting to me that shuffling the same article from one template to another.