The Associated Press (AP) claims to be the world's oldest and largest news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, who both contribute stories to it and use material written by its staffers. As of 2003, AP consists of 1,523 daily newspapers.
The collapse of United Press International, AP's historic competitor in the U.S., has left the it as the only national news service in the country. Only a few foreign challengers, notably Reuters, exist. It is so omnipresent that the Associated Press Stylebook has become the de facto standard for news-writing in the country.
AP was formed in May 1848 by representatives of six competitive New York newspapers, who wanted to pool resources to collect news from Europe. Until then, newspapers competed by sending reporters out in rowboats to meet the ships as they arrived in the harbor. The following year it opened the first overseas bureau, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to meet ships from Europe before they docked in New York.
In 1861, facing censorship in covering the American Civil War, reporters first filed under the anonymous byline "from the Associated Press agent."
In 1876, Mark Kellogg, a stringer, becomes the first AP correspondent to die in the line of duty, at the Battle of Little Bighorn. His final dispatch: "I go with Custer and will be at the death."
In 1914, AP introduced the Teletype, which transmited directly to printers over telegraph wires. Eventually a worldwide network of 60-word-per-minute Teletypes was built up.