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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

April 6, 2009 at 12:22 PM

To help papers, AP takes on Google News, pledges Web crackdown

It’s too late for some newspapers, but the Associated Press today announced a few steps to help the struggling media companies.


Directors of the news cooperative, who are meeting in San Diego, said they’re launching an initiative “to protect news content from misappropriation online.”
“We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories,” AP Chairman Dean Singleton said in the release.
AP will develop a system to track content distributed online to be sure Web sites are using it legally. It will also “pursue legal and legislative actions against those who don’t,” the release said, paraphrasing Singleton’s comments.
I wonder if it will make any difference.
Will the AP and newspapers also pursue news aggregation sites that publish headlines and/or summaries, giving online readers the gist of a story without having to ever visit the newspapers’ site? That seems to be a much bigger problem than outright copying of stories.
I wonder if the content-tracking system that AP develops could also be used to distribute ad revenue generated by a particular story, so the news organization that pays for the initial reporting would receive a corresponding benefit. This would be a great incentive to continue investing in high quality news gathering.
To more directly affect newspapers’ bottom line, the AP is cutting rates about 20 percent and creating new options for papers, including a “limited” plan for papers expecting to run less world and national news. (An incentive for papers to run even less news?)
With newspapers grumbling about Google News and its poor system of ranking stories, AP also decided to create its own search pages “that point users to the latest and most authoritative sources of breaking news,” the release said.

Comments | More in | Topics: Digital media, news, online media

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