Some Thoughts on News Registries

EdNotes: This post has been hanging around unpublished since July 24th. Just discoverde that i missed to push the publish button. Since i still think that it is relevant i’m going to push that button now.

Yesterday the Associated Press made her move and announced their plans for a news registry based on the hnews Format and some kind of beacon / tracking device. The day before announced that Conde Nast, Scripps, Gawker, Hearst Newspaper Group, McClatchy (NYSE: MNI) and Newsweek have joined the consortium and that the first ad network: AdBrite also joined.

So for me it looks like an arms race between the two right now ( in the US market). Right now i have no time to explain the details and the differences between the two but i wanted to add some more general remarks on the topic:

  • IMHO News registries are a very good idea, provided that they are open to the public (so that everybody can see what is out there) and  what rights are attachetd to the content. Preferrably they provide an public web frontend as well as an API.
  • The best exisiting news registries i know about in this respect are the NYT APi and the Guardian open platform
  • Their disadvantage is that they are single source only and do not describe the attached rights in a somewhat machine readable format. hNews the proposed Microformat by the MediaStandardsTrust and the AP seem to be a pragmatic way to do that (much better than ACAP)

Hence IMHO a centralized NewsRegistry:

  • Would ideally provide an public web frontend (as well as an API) to an index of the registered content
    • containing at least URL, publisher and headline,
    • preferrably some Metadata and content as dedided on by the publisher
    • ideally realnear-time tracking data like you get with the URL Shorteners (needs cooperation of the original content owner as well as the licensees
  • Would provide some way to (automatically) license/use content. This could be best done by a multi-tiered API.
    • It free level should at least include the NYT API  and Guardian Open Platform models: Content excerpt with link to original source (NYT) and full content with ad (Guardian) as well as full-content for cc-licensed content.
    • The non-free API levels would be basically different levels of rate-limits on full-content. Ideally theere should a a price model that is as simple / complex as the current iTunes model. but not more complex. (It presumably gets more difficult if  resellers are allowed to license from the registry). Rev-Sharing has to be considered as an alternative.
    • The licensees are contractually mandated to provide statistics to their use of the content (this is presumably what AP’s tracking beacon is about

AFAIK the fairsyndication consortium doesn’t plan to open up it’s registry to the general public. I’m not sure what the AP is planning but i don’t think they will open the index up to the general  public :-(

But what about other contenders? Especially the one?

  • The (technologically) best positioned news registry right now IMHO is Google News.
  • They already have the content of  25000 sources, the have proven that they can scale,
  • With the integration of creative commons filtering  into Google image search, and the  they have shown that they can filter on rights, etc.
  • A recent (this years W3C paper) shows that they can track the origin of texts on  web scale
  • They already have a quite successful tracking system that can be used. It’s called Google Analytics

So here is a (may be not so) crazy thought experiment:

What would happen if  Google would fund the operation of a NewsRegistry similar to the BookRightsRegistry?

  • It would be run as part of a non-profit organisation
  • Google would provide licenses to it’s technology to the NewsRegistry
  • GoogleNews would be the first customer for full text-content (for the content that Google deems relevant to include in full at their site.

Your comments please.

Interesting reads from an First amendment day discussion

From the opening statement of Micheal Bugeja:

We have a telling array of evidence in the selection of our speakers. We had invited Nigel Duara of the Associated Press to be here tonight; but I advised him not to after his wire service expressed concern that he may exercise free speech and voice opinion. For instance, he might have mentioned that some newspapers here in Iowa are contemplating eliminating the AP because they can no longer afford it.

Nigel’s absence testifies to the title of this panel discussion: “Can there be freedom of the press without a press?”

Perhaps the AP should host its own panel discussion. I would title it: “Can there be an Associated Press as long as there is Google?” In 2004, I urged the AP to sue Google because it was distributing its content for free-an aspect of Internet that has destroyed journalism as we knew it.

Keep the word “free” in mind and see how, if at all, the Internet has changed the meaning of that word.

Internet is not the devil in this discussion. Google is. Internet is the hell where Google resides. Rather than sue the devil, as I have been advocating for years, the Associated Press has other plans for the dominant search engine, according to Business Week, which reports:

The AP plans to build an online destination where it hopes Web users can easily find and read its news stories and those of other content creators. When it comes to compiling online news, the AP wants to out-Google Google. The Web search giant “has a wacky algorithm” for collecting news stories, AP Chief Executive Tom Curley says in an interview. “It does not lead people to authoritative sources.”

Google does not lead people to authoritative sources? Here’s a flash for the AP: Your brainstorm happened five years too late.

Can There Be Freedom of the Press without a Press? « Transforming the Gaz

From Steve Buttry’s answer:

I’ll start with a couple requests. If you have a cell phone, please get it out and hold it up. Now, if you have used that phone today to send or receive written communication or images, whether by text message, email or web, please open or activate your phone so that the screen lights up. Now wave that phone and look around you. (Nearly everyone in the crowd, mostly students, waved a glowing phone.)

This is the future of freedom of the press. It is healthy, it is thriving and it will not be stopped, even if the companies that own printing presses can’t find their way to a prosperous future. The light of freedom shines as bright as those lights we see throughout this auditorium.

My parents taught me to be a polite guest, so part of me wants to thank Dr. Bugeja for his hospitality and to nod politely at his remarks. But a panel discussion without disagreement would be dull indeed, so I will be a polite guest and help my host present a lively discussion by disagreeing with nearly everything he just said.

Google is not the devil, the Internet is not hell and neither one is a threat to freedom of the press.

Print is far from dead, but if newspapers die because we failed to develop a new business model, I am confident that our First Amendment freedoms will carry on in digital communication.

Google’s no threat to press freedom « Transforming the Gaz