The Associated Press plans to create a new independent agency that will act as a 'rights clearinghouse' to enable "broader and better access to original news reporting," a press release announced.
AP CEO Tom Curley spoke at the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association meeting in Austin, Texas, about how news content has been losing value online because of the way that aggregation has led to the creation of "secondary markets" for this content which have siphoned away value.
To fight this, the AP is working with other new organisations to establish a separate entity that "would provide rights clearance and privacy tools; a variety of ways to license content from publishers; and media intelligence services that would give insights to businesses about consumption of news content," said the press release. Curley said that the AP had decided that an AP-owned and operated model would not be the most effective.
The effort is linked to the AP News Registry, a project to better mark up and track AP content and that of its members, aiming to facilitate the licensing and online distribution of these organisations' news content. The hnews microformat tagging system allows news providers to get a more accurate picture of where and how their content is being used, and makes its legal reuse easier. The News Registry went live in July and almost 1,000 newspapers have signed up to participate, the AP press release said.
"The clearinghouse will answer a need we heard from multiple businesses for an efficient mechanism to access content from a range of news providers for a variety of uses," Curley said. "This extends to the news industry an approach that has worked successfully in other industries with similar challenges around digital usage." The AP will seek guidance from the US Department of Justice to shape the services of the clearinghouse.
Curley has been quite vocal for some time about the need to clamp down unauthorised use of newspaper content by third parties and has attracted attention for his tough stance on this. In this speech, Curley stressed that the goal of the clearinghouse is not "for publishers to wall off or limit off-site uses of content," but more to allow the efficient management of commercial uses of their content.
Curley also talked about the AP's moves into the delivery of news. "We've stood by watching while others invent creative new uses for our news... we've watched others innovate the delivery of that news," he said, calling for the audience to join with the AP to act swiftly on this front.
The AP's mobile strategy is starting to change, Curley said, moving away from reproducing the wire feeds and towards "the creation of new experiences" which will be "handcrafted" by AP journalists. The AP hopes to launch new mobile and tablet applications early next year, which will offer "fresh perspectives on the day's top stories and take them behind the scenes with our experts."
Meanwhile, the AP is also expanding its development of white label mobile and iPad apps for its member newspapers, hence making it easier for these news providers to get onto new platforms promptly, Curley said. More than 70 AP member newspapers and broadcasters have already launched smartphone apps developed by AP and Verve Wireless, according to the press release.
The AP's mobile strategy is particularly interesting because it represents a level of contact with the consumer that the organisation, as an association and news wire with no specific publication or destination website, never had before. Via smartphone and tablet apps, the AP now offers its news direct to the consumer. The French national news agency Agence France-Presse has expressed an intention to follow suit with the creation of its own applications, and this has been met with opposition from newspaper publishers.