September 11th, 2008

Evolution of the Newswire on the Web

by

Jeff Jarvis has post today worth reading, about the emergence of the web as the new newswire and the trend away from traditional newswires like AP:

The old syndication model in the old content economy just won’t work today when all the world needs is one copy of a story up in the cloud with links to it. Today, the more links that article can get, the more valuable it is. So sharing value with those who send links to it only makes sense.

An AP representative commented:

We believe AP news is a critical ingredient for all news reports, both directly and as a foundation for many other sources of news. Breaking news from AP journalists around the world and in the United States, for example, serves as the origin for stories pursued by both AP members and many other news organizations.

AP still plays an important role in producing original reporting, but it’s now just one of many sources of original reporting that newspapers can tap into, as the Star Ledger did:

New Jersey’s Star-Ledger today put out an entire edition without anything from the Associated Press within. The sharp-eyed reader will notice lots of local news by staff plus articles from other papers–Washington Post, LA Times, McClatchy, the Glouceseter County Times–and content from online services such as Sportsticker.

AP publishes all of their original content on Google and Yahoo — on the web, any news site can link to that content, without having to license it. AND, they are not limited to linking to AP — they can link to any original reporting on the web.

A commenter on responded to the AP rep:

But Paul, how will the AP retain it’s value when
1. The web is a pretty good newswire and it’s free.
2. When, like Jeff said, you only need one copy of a story online and everyone else can just link to it.
3. When, even if the shared content model works in print, it is actually worse than useless online – and everyone’s moving online?

The web is already a “pretty good newswire” — and with collaborative tools that enable newsrooms to discover, share, and publish links to the best content, it can be even better.

  • Thanks for including my comment here, Scott. Yes, the web is a pretty good newswire, especially if you do some work and aggregate a bunch of RSS feeds (from major news sites but also from aggregators and search engines) together and filter them through something like Y! pipes. Even a non-programmer could make something for his org that worked pretty close to the way AP's wire works, and a programmer could make it work EXACTLY the same.

    Platforms like yours will make this even easier.

    I think it's a really big problem, and a disservice to the web, its users, and news companies themselves when they put copies of the same story in multiple locations on the web. It serves nobody, and in fact makes our news gathering experience harder by gumming up aggregators. Content sharing - the practice of putting the same content in many different locations - should be a crime. Yet that's the model AP works on.

    Aggregators need to get better at crap-filtering, duplication-avoidance, and crediting original sources.

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