Thursday, October 21, 2004

Dropping the Veil: Leading News Sites Reinventing Rapidly in Face of Search Engines

Mark Glaser's USC Annenberg OJR article on news sites' efforts to open up to their readership picks up on the impact of news search engines that we've been following for a while, adding several interesting details. The Wall Street Journal Online will have a five-day trial starting 8 November (mark your calendar!) of its entire site for free, while New York Times technology journalist David Pogue will be equipped with his own weblog service. The WSJ effort will try to promote other rich content with deep linking into its own site from its pages, while, as noted earlier here, BBC News is going with links to outside sources via Moreover. How quickly things change - or more to the point, how quickly things change when publishing concerns wait too long to make changes. It's been clear for some time that the Journal and other behind-the-firewall publications have been missing out on a lot of the fun as readers learn how to find multiple sources on the news that matters to them most via news search engines, RSS feeds and personal aggregation services such as MyYahoo!. One has to assume that the WSJ is taking a look at the gap between its subscription revenues and actual site visits from subscribers and discovering that they had best be expanding their online readership base quickly. Whether this means that the Journal will be introducing new revenue models is yet to be seen, but it's likely that the emerging dominance of search engines and XML weblog feeds is pushing premium news content providers further away from traditional "lock 'em up" subscription sites. As new models evolve, the crying need for a rights management strategy for online news archives will become far more apparent. See Business Week's article on users sharing site registrations for collateral proof that online premium publishers have been living in a dream world without rights management.

On a related note: in searching for news headlines I've noted that The Detroit News is coming up a lot these days for stories from the Associated Press. It's ludicrous how many regional and local papers have knee-jerked back to a registration-required model for even wire service content. This seems to play into the hands of papers that are willing to open up to the search engines and help monetize this content that's widely available anyway. Thanks, Detroit.
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