hNews vs. rNews?

It’s been almost two years since the Associated Press issued a press release that began this way:


AP Press Release

Associated Press to build news registry to protect content

Registry will provide tools to monitor use of AP and member content online while also enabling new business opportunities

NEW YORK – The Associated Press Board of Directors today directed The Associated Press to create a news registry that will tag and track all AP content online to assure compliance with terms of use. The system will register key identifying information about each piece of content that AP distributes as well as the terms of use of that content, and employ a built-in beacon to notify AP about how the content is used.

“What we are building here is a way for good journalism to survive and thrive,” said Dean Singleton, chairman of the AP Board of Directors and vice chairman and CEO of MediaNews Group Inc. “The AP news registry will allow our industry to protect its content online, and will assure that we can continue to provide original, independent and authoritative journalism at a time when the world needs it more than ever.”

The registry will initially cover all AP text content online, and be extended to AP member content in early 2010. Eventually, it will be expanded to cover photos and video as well. AP will fund development and operation of the registry through 2010, until it becomes self-sustaining.

I thought it was actually a cool thing, and said so, adding,

Over in Linux Journal I just posted AP Launches Open Source Ascribenation Project, in which I look at how the AP’s “tracking and tagging” technology, which is open source, can help lay the foundations for a journalistic world where everybody gets credit for what they contribute to the greater sphere of news and comment — and can get paid for it too, easily — if readers feel like doing that.

The process of giving credit where due we call , and the system by which readers (or listeners, or viewers) choose to pay for it we call .

Regardless of what we call it, that’s where we’re going to end up. The system that began when the AP was formed in 1846 isn’t going to go away, but it will have to adapt. And adopt. It’s good to see it doing the latter. The former will be harder. But it has to be done.

In the Linux Journal piece I said,

The AP has two routes it can take here:

  1. The paranoid route, looking toward their new system as a way to lock up content and enforce compliance.
  2. The engagement route, by which they recognize that they’ve just helped lay the foundation for the next generation of journalism, and a business model for it. That generation is one in which all journalists and sources get credit for their work throughout the networked world — and where readers, listeners and viewers can easily recognize (and cite) those responsible for the media goods they consume. The business model is one in which anybody consuming media “content” (a word I hate, but there it is) can pay whatever they want for anything they like, on their own terms and not just those of the seller.

The call to action:

The real challenge for the AP isn’t to “protect its content.” It’s to make that content more valuable to more people and in more ways. It’s to help create the 21st century ecosystem for journalism, rather than to protect its 19th century model. (The AP was founded in 1846.) A lot of us would like to help the AP, along with other journalistic organizations. But we can’t do it through legal departments. We can’t do it through CEOs and spokespeople either. We need to do it on a geek-to-geek level. Our geeks need to be talking to their geeks.

It did get some positive geek press, and I see the News Registry is up and there is an hNews microformat. Lots of links there. Among recent links, though, not much.

Now I see there is also rNews, “developed by the IPTC, a consortium of the world’s major news agencies, news publishers and news industry vendors.” Also that “there is no need for violence” in its “war” with hNews. Wow.

Anyway, I’m writing up ascribenation for a book right now, and it would be good to get the story here, whatever it is.


1 comment

  1. John Harmon’s avatar

    I agree the AP should be less concerned about protecting it’s content and more focused on making it relative and valued. Google has set the bar for searching relative content (unfortunately they are too driven by the Greed search vs. content) but still the most relevant we have for a broad search. The AP needs to be governed by the search vs. legal departments, but today’s business climate is ruled by the lawyers after all…. Let the geeks rule!!

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