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Associated Press’ Cross leaves mark on journalism class

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by Jennifer Dodd
Staff Writer

Los Angeles Associated Press Bureau Chief Sue Cross came to the University of La Verne as a guest lecturer Tuesday to discuss what she does and give some insight into the journalism profession.

Cross explained to the roughly 50 news reporting students who gathered in the Hoover Building classroom that the Associated Press is a not-for profit cooperative that obtains news two ways: “Directly from AP reporters and from contributing staff, such as the L.A. Times.”

Most daily newspapers across the country subscribe to the AP, which is also referred to as “the report” or “the wire,” Cross said.

She added that the AP differs from regular newspapers in that it is “kind of like the wholesaler of news, whereas the newspapers that you buy would be considered retail. We have video, radio and print. The difference is we are behind the scenes.”

The AP started 154 years ago in 1848 in New York, she said. Today it has hundreds of bureaus across the nation and the world.

Instead of every newspaper sending someone out to a story, they know the AP has a bureau there and the story will be covered and will eventually get to them.

It spares wasted time and expense, Cross said.

She added that the AP does the opposite of what most media try to do, which is attempting to take a story down to the local level.

Instead, the AP tries to look for what makes the story of statewide, national or international interest; the organization aims to make it a broader story.

Other media depend on the AP to be there even when not a whole lot is going on in a particular area.

“If you’re an AP reporter or editor, you are one of about 3,700 people around the world in 245 bureaus,” Cross said. “In those bureaus we produce about 20 million words a day and more than 1,000 photographs a day worldwide. That news goes to 1,700 newspapers in the United States and more than 5,000 television and radio reports.

“There are more than 8,500 subscribers worldwide. What this means is that if you work for the AP it is vital to never make a mistake on the wire.”

Cross told the students of the different areas one can work in at the AP. “You can be a reporter, an editor or a photographer,” she said.

She also pointed out that not everyone who works for the AP has to move around. She has colleagues who have worked in the same place for 20 to 25 years.

She has, however, done quite a bit of traveling.

Cross attended college at Ohio State University, where she majored in journalism and political science.

She was editor of the college newspaper and had already been familiar with the journalism business as a child because her dad edited the small hometown paper.

Her first out-of-town job was in Toledo, Ohio, covering a labor riot. After Toledo, she went onto Juneau, Ala., where she covered a variety of stories from oil to politics to natural resource issues.

From there she worked in Texas, Chicago, Arizona and is currently in Los Angeles.

She first started working for the AP as a temporary relief staffer. The job developed from there.

Cross stressed that upon graduating, students should just have a plan for what they would like to do as their first job.

Students planning their entire career do not necessarily need to do so, she said. She also explained that Journalism is a great field to get into if students are not sure what they want to do.

“You get the opportunity to talk to interesting and intelligent people and learn about a variety of things, not just one particular subject,” she said.

“Sue’s talk was very informative and interesting,” said Elizabeth Zwerling, assistant professor of journalism.

“I thought she gave a frank assessment of the Journalism industry and how the AP fits into that. And she gave an accurate description of the pros and cons of working in the field today,” she added.

“She gave us the real picture of what journalism is all about. It made me more interested in the subject,” said journalism student Oscar De Leon.

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