Nieman Journalism Lab has published the full speech given by Associated Press chief executive Tom Curley at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents' Club last week, in which he mentioned the possibility of offering AP content as an exclusive for a certain period of time. In his speech, Curley focused on how the organisation is trying to create new revenue streams and to protect its content.
"First of all," Curley said, "more people are seeking news more times a time in more places than ever before." However, there are also more people creating news, and Curley sees "an oversupply, at least in the short term," which he believes is causing difficulties in the market. It is no secret that the AP has been suffering financially from reduced membership fees in recent years.
So what is the AP going to do differently to bring in more revenue? There will always be a base license fee for AP content, Curley said, but the association is imagining "a number of premium products." Using content in further syndication or email services could be charged extra, or using it in aggregation, Curley said. This is when he mentioned the possibility of exclusives given for a certain amount of time, which was widely reported last week.
Curley spoke of the AP's 'news registry' project which is an effort to better mark up and track AP content and that of its members, using the hnews microformat as a base. Curley said that the registry would be curated by editors and "provide the links on a real-time basis to breaking news," linking to the newspaper that broke the story rather than one which has used the same story but is better optimised for search engines. "So if you're a part of an organization that is breaking stories, you are going to be rewarded. You are going to get the traffic that you deserve," he promised. Exactly how the news registry will change the consumer's experience is as yet unclear, however.
"You have to begin by protecting your content," Curley said. "It's time for us to get control of our content, and so we shall do that," he said, lamenting that US publishers have missed chances to protect their content in both 1977 and the late 1990s with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which he believes "basically enabled Google and the Google wannabes to do what they are doing."
The AP has developed a 'beacon' to add to the hnews microformat which allows the organisation to track where and when AP content is being used. Srinandan Kasi, AP vice president and general counsel indicated to the EW in an interview last month that the so-called beacon, or marker, will be used largely for research and licensing: helping the AP understand how its content is being read, and for improving licensing efficiency, Curley's speech, however, makes it clear that one of the marker's primary uses will be to protect content. He specified that if the marker (contained in an article's HTML code) is removed, the AP will be informed and a 'service bureau' will monitor usage of content.
Engaging with the audience is also important, he stressed, and he pointed to the AP's use of Twitter to gather questions about the Sotomayor hearing in July, in partnership with Yahoo and a dozen newspapers. Traffic to all of these sites was far higher than usual as a result of this experiment. This is the sort of thing that the AP wants to continue in the future and to monetise.
Curley also mentioned that the AP is soon to create a desk called the Nerve Center, and clarified that this will be the desk that engages with social media. He specified the ways in which filing protocols will change with the creation of the new desk: instead of a one, two, three protocol system (headline, first paragraph, story) the AP will move to a zero to four approach (zero - borrowing from broadcast, four - a full multimedia effort.)
Diversifying sources of revenue is undoubtedly a wise move for a news organisation, and the AP's wish to clamp down on unauthorised use of its content is understandable. Could it succeed in leading the way in revolutionising the way copyright is protected and content is monetised?
Source: Nieman Journalism Lab