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Panpa Bulletin : February 2006
In a terror event if Sydney's infrastructure was crippled, aap could still operate The new Australian Associ- ated Press headquarters at Rhodes Waterside Sydney is a perfect platform for the agen- cy's future, according to chief ex- ecutive Clive Marshall. The state-of-the-art facilities not only promote a vibrant work- ing environment, they also ensure the business can function through potentially crippling cuts to power and water. "Our relocation from Lang Street (in Sydney's CBD) to Rhodes was an opportunity to assess all aspects of our business as they pertain to the future growth and prosperity of the business," Mr. Marshall said. "A lot of detailed planning and contingencies went into design, layout and infrastructure. "This is a business well equipped to tackle the commercial and techni- cal challenges of the future." he said. Aap's search for a new home be- gan over two years ago. "We'd simply outgrown our CBD premises. While it was a good geo- graphic location, the internal struc- ture no longer suited our needs," Mr. Marshall said. "Our depart- ments were spread over 10 floors in the building which made important internal communication difficult. "RhodesWaterside offered a build- ing with a large floor enabling the op- eration to fit on two floors. These are separated by a wide internal stairway for easy access," he said. Aap has a well-designed news- room and support departments. It's a functional and visually appealing environment. "And Rhodes Water- side is a good location. There are great amenities for staff," Mr. Mar- shall said. "While we haven't conducted our own studies on the impact of our business to this area, we know it will be significant. "The whole precinct we're sure is making its mark on the community in an economic sense. It's been a great vision by the developers." Business continuity is critical to aap, according to Information Technology director Peter Woods. "Interruptions to supply are not an option so we were also able to build in a complex series of back- up systems to ensure the business could still operate even if power and water to the area were cut off," Mr. Woods said. Woods says these back up sys- tems on site are designed operate for 72 hours with no outside serv- ices- and this doesn't even take into account the off site disaster recov- ery program. The technology built into the site is ahead of any news organization in Australia. "It's a very hardened site, it is im- possible to think what else we could have done." The new site also includes a pur- pose built broadcast studio which will be available for talking heads, DVN and corporate use. aap's move to Rhodes came at a significant investment -- in the multi-millions - and was officially opened by the Prime Minister, John Howard and was attended by Aus- tralia's leading media proprietors, chief executives, publishers, editors and industry representatives. At the opening Mr. Howard an- nounced he would be providing a regular column to aap and that the invitation had also been extended to Federal Opposition Leader, Kim Beasley. Howard said that he 'ac- cepted the invitation with alacrity' particularly given it was an oppor- tunity to speak with rural and re- gional Australia. "Creating and delivering news for all traditional and new media is the core of aap's business, says Edi- tor-in-Chief, Tony Gillies. aap is one of a handful of the world's national news agencies not funded or managed under govern- ment influence. aap's four media shareholders (John Fairfax Hold- ings, News Limited, West Australian Newspapers and Rural Press) do not influence news coverage but fiercely protect its editorial imparti- ality and independence. aap delivers 4500 stories, photos, video and data files to print, radio, television and news media custom- ers each day. "More than 200 journalists in 15 locations create the domestic news service while commercial partner- ships with a dozen international news agencies enables aap to pro- vide a comprehensive world service to subscribers," Mr. Gillies said. About 130 journalists and sub- editors work in the Rhodes news- room while aap maintains an office for 18 reporters in York Street in the CBD. Reporters based at Rhodes also use this office as a 'drop-in of- fice' as required. "But technology is so mobile these days, reporters can do their job from the 'road'." Mr. Gillies said. "The office works well. We spent a lot of time on the design to ensure internal communication was most efficient. From most points in the newsroom we can see the desks of all of our staff. It helps." February 2006 PANPA BULLETIN | 17 NEWS aap's new headquarters unstoppable AAP Chairman Michael Gill, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and AAP CEO Clive Marshall officially opening the new Australian Associated Press headquarters in Rhodes, Sydney, Friday, Feb. 3, 2006. (aap Image/Mick Tsikas)