As the paid-versus-free news debate rages, CNN (TWX) is taking a big step away from commodity content by dropping its subscription to the Associated Press, saying it plans to rely principally on its own newsgathering resources from now on.

"[T]he content we spend our money to create should be the content we present, and less reliance on outside sources will mean more to invest in our organization," Jim Walton, CNN's worldwide president, wrote in a memo announcing the move. Walton added that producing its own stories rather than relying on the same wire copy as its competitors will help differentiate CNN's voice.

The network offered similar reasoning in 2007 when it dropped Reuters, a move that reportedly saved it something less than $10 million annually. Since then, CNN has launched a wire service of its own, hoping to lure as clients the growing ranks of newspapers that have become disenchanted with AP. Meanwhile, AP has been cutting its membership fees in an attempt to forestall defections.

But CNN isn't ready yet to stand solely on its own two feet. While it's parting ways with AP, the network has signed a new deal with Reuters to provide supplemental coverage of breaking news.

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