We in the news industry like to think of ourselves as self-sufficient, do-it-yourselfers. We gather the news, sell the ads, put all the pieces together in production, print the package and distribute ourselves, thank you, to subscribers and coinboxes throughout the lands. It's Andrew Carnegie (below), turn-of-the-last century vertically integrated enterprise.
That of course us has caused us all kinds of problems in trying to get our Web acts together, since the web is all about time to market, and strategically and quickly partnering with others to get stuff done that your own company and people can't.
Our DIY self-image is particularly strong in newsrooms. We have this image of intrepid journalists wandering in, some time in the a.m. and then pursuing all the news that counts and bringing it back alive. We think of the paper as being local and staff-written.
Local and staff-written has always been a key to our success, but never more than now do we see that model busting up. (Actually news orgs have also brought in lots of content: TV and movie listings, syndicated columns, comics, sports data, stock listings, etc.)
Just in the last week, we've seen announcements by Mochila, Pluck, Newstex and Your Hub, among numerous others, that point to the rapid changes in the works.
You could call it Stuff In, Stuff Out (SI-SO). We're seeing a lot more stuff moving into news pages in print and especially news pages online. We're seeing the ability to move news company-produced stuff out of news companies more easily.
Take the Stuff In. Pluck's new BlogBurst* product is a new provider of content to digital newsrooms, topical content produced by bloggers. Why pay a travel writer when you can pick up some travel content more cheaply? How about health? Cricket? Antiquing? And on and on.
Already, the Washington Post (which just whacked 80 newsroom jobs recently), the San Francisco Chronicle and a spate of Texas papers near Pluck's Austin base, the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express-News and the hometown Austin American-Statesman ( & Austin 360). As BlogBurst builds up its 700+ blog suppliers and its categories (first out are "Travel, Women's Issues, Technology & Gadgets, Food & Entertainment and Local Metros".)
Also, on Stuff In. Consider Your Hub. I visited the Your Hub booth at NEXPO a couple of weeks ago. Your Hub reports that in Denver, its launch site, it is now receiving 1400 community posts and 800 calendar items a week. Those, if they hold, are impressive numbers. They will create a vibrant, newspaper-company-hosted community, which is both able to be monetized and exposed to more content on the Denver newspapers sites of the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News. (Of course, what they may be exposed to is BlogBurst-supplied content, so you can see how this circle is working.) And the best of Your Hub community content is being put into weekly, hyper-local tabs (90% community written) with more, and presumably, new advertisers.
Stuff Out. Newstex* is now making a business of licensing full-text blog content to among others LexisNexis. Larry Schwartz, Newstex's CEO, is on to something here, just as Pluck is with BlogBurst. It's simple: some blog content has more value than other blog content and can be licensed or monetized through advertsing. How about all those thousands of blogs now being produced by newspaper staffers? No longer are they just nice additions to one paper's destination website; they are grist for syndication, sliced by topic and locale, and, eeks, talent!
Stuff In and Out, In and Out. Then there's the recent Mochila announcement, unveiled after months of secrecy in the Times. Given an exclusive, the Times provided a sunny piece, reporting that “Mochila will be a place where newspapers, magazines, websites, and broadcasters sell content to each other." You know, dance on the graves of ISyndicate and Screaming Media, and have exquisite timing: offering a state-of-the-art content exchange that can work seamlessly and with greater transparency than current, largely opaque deal-making affords.
Well, maybe. I wish CEO Keith McAllister good luck and hope his timing is better than others. The admin set looks great, and as a veteran licensor of content, I wish I had it a half-decade ago.
To our SI-SO point here, though, the metaphor is right (and write.) Stuff just wants to get out and in. Stuff In, Stuff Out. SI-SO. It's the age we're moving into.
Addendum (4/19): Good piece by Kevin Maney in USAT interviewing Mark Cuban on the fast-changing media landscape. Well worth a read.
*Content Bridges BLOG dislosure: Content Bridges can be found in both the Newstex and BlogBurst feeds. Not a penny received.