Tim Buckley Owen News Month! - A VIP Editorial
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By Tim Buckley Owen


News has been in the news a lot lately. First there was the issue of whether the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) was legally entitled to charge commercial aggregators for the use of links to its members' news items – then more recently the paywall erected by News International around the Times newspaper and its companion publications.

Both these issues are ongoing. The NLA is awaiting rulings from both the Copyright Tribunal and the High Court, and early subscriber figures suggest that the Times experiment is indeed proving to be pretty high risk. Meanwhile above all this glides the Financial Times, shunning the NLA's services and relying on its status as a must-read for business to erect a paywall of its own that has so far stood the test of time.

So to say that FreePint is carrying out its latest News Needs and Preferences Survey in interesting times is a bit of an understatement. Presenting the key results in this issue of VIP, FreePint’s Robin Neidorf highlights a real dilemma for news vendors: users acknowledge that premium sources do offer search, targeting and analytics that the free services can’t match – yet they still intend to increase their use of free resources, and are actually asking the premium vendors to focus on cutting prices, not increasing the very features that distinguish them from the free stuff.

There is a crumb of comfort for the vendors. A year ago, in the economic mire, customers were focused almost exclusively on driving down costs; now, with the way ahead a little clearer, they are able at last to take a more balanced view.

Which means that it’s also a great time for VIP to be reviewing two news products that focus sharply on the value they can add to the raw content: Newsdesk 4 from Moreover Technologies, and Factiva, owned by News Corporation subsidiary Dow Jones.

They make an interesting comparison. As reviewer Heidi Longaberger points out, Factiva is long-established and pre-eminent – an ‘establishment’ tool, if you like – that is just now doing an excellent job of incorporating news from the blogosphere and other social media into its portfolio, as well as adding platforms and upgrades to its mobile offering.

Meanwhile fellow reviewer Penny Crossland explains that Moreover already aggregates a myriad of social media sources, applying far more efficient filters to its search results than would be possible just using a conventional search engine – although closer to a search engine it is in other respects, because it doesn’t syndicate content, but simply provides links to the original articles.

It's an intriguing juxtaposition. Does one represent the past and the other the future? Or is there room for both models as they profit from access to a rapidly growing audience?

Add to this rich fare Heidi's excellent essay on what she looks for when evaluating a news product, and all our regulars: Tap the Wire, In Scope, Horizon, and Anne Jordan's meticulous assessment of what's in and what's out sourcewise.

Happy reading? Possibly. Intriguing? Definitely.

Tim Buckley Owen

Tim Buckley Owen is the News Editor for VIP.

This editorial appears in VIP Magazine No. 84, November 2010. Purchase online >>

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