In truth, few can offer the breadth of service of Associated Press. In truth, few need it.
The dispute at the moment involving about 100 newspapers and AP focuses on rates, on tiers of service and how they're defined, on ownership of content and how it can be shared, and on a general upset among papers that in their darkest moments AP isn't bending sufficiently to help them weather what looks like a protracted storm.
In a few isolated cases --- by no means common in the industry --- some papers are beginning to form regional alliances to share copy and serve notice they'll live without AP some time in the future (AP requires a two-year severance notice, so the revenue will keep arriving until 2010).
But CNN has sensed an opening and stepped in with an offer to provide a text service to complement the extensive audio/video elements it now sells to television, radio and online media. It has invited papers to come see the proposed expansion this week in Atlanta, and the New York Times provides an overview.