Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Reuters, AP Ponder How to Best Define New Value in the Portal Era

The USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review reports on the contrasting approaches of Reuters and AP to securing the value of news content that is being picked up increasingly via news search engines. As noted in our earlier weblog Reuters is pulling its core business content from its syndicated feeds for web portals is part of a strategy to build more brand equity via its own news portal and to fend off complaints from newspapers using their content - an effort that opened the door for AP to fill that gap at Yahoo! and other portal outlets with its new AP Financial News product. Yet AP has its own portal attrition issues to manage, as OJR points out how one of its member papers The Arizona Republic does not want AP content via Yahoo!'s local portal efforts competing with its own portal. OJR sees this as a continuation of the fight to keep breaking news from being commoditized, but it seems to be more specifically an issue of what constitutes valuable aggregation in today's content marketplace. The winners in today's wars for aggregation supremacy are those who can provide the most original content in its most potent and valuable context. When distribution is generally ubiquitous, the concept of syndication to any but the most potent end points - generally those closest to the user's direct control - are of questionable value. News is not a commodity, but providing news in an aggregated format from multiple sources that's fairly trivial to manage by the standards of today's users is definitely a concept that's going to be increasingly hard to monetize. Chalk one up to the owners of content who are smart enough to build their own brand value directly through the most potent context-builders available.
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