Thursday, November 16, 2006

Reuters Takes Weblogs Under its Global Distribution Wing

The Washington Post reports along with others on Reuters Group PLC's acquisition of a USD 7 million stake in weblog syndicator Pluck. The Austin, Texas-based company is in a way providing the next generation of feed aggregation that builds on what Reuters has done already in financial content markets with its global real-time data feeds of securities trading data from the world's exchanges. Pluck's BlogBurst Syndication Network plucks out editorially selected weblogs and packages them into feeds that major publishers and corporations integrate into their portals to provide additional views in specific categories of content, providing the benefits of user-generated media alongside mainstream media. Other Pluck features make it easier for publishers to solicit user content for their own sites and to allow users to create their own aggregated feeds of news and weblog commentary. It's a timely move for Reuters, allowing them to gain both new media services to offer their clients through their global sales and distribution network while positioning their news as being in the same stream of relevance as increasingly respected weblog sources.

Where this leaves other news producers and aggregators is probably a more germane focus at this time in light of the Reuters deal. AP has doings with Google to provide their core news content to a new iteration of Google News, which is likely to include user-generated content along the lines of the Newsvine portal that already consumes AP content, but other news wire services are far less aggressive in positioning their content alongside user-generated media. AP and Google offer a different type of synergy than the Reuters deal, but if Reuters is to add weblog content and other sources alongside its own at there could be an interesting competition a-brewing for a new era of news aggregation services. The Reuters deal may also accelerate interest in other services that are normalizing Web content into syndicated feeds to help media organizations take a similarly agnostic approach to delivering news products. Any one up for a deal with blog and news aggregator Newstex? The time could be right for a major player to swoop down and bolt on Newstex' capabilities to broaden their appeal.

Whatever the ultimate consequences of this deal Reuters has made it clear that effective integration and acquisition of user-generated media is going to be a key element of any news service's strengths moving forward. Professional editorial sources will continue to provide a valuable core to those services but with a world of experts speaking their minds through weblogs it would be a foolish move to ignore these front-line authors as being outside the sphere of mainstream news any longer. Kudos to both Reuters and Pluck on a deal that seems to make the best of both of their strengths.
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