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So that's the expected downside. The upside? This major shift is expected to free up Google News Search to feature more original reporting - and those original news articles should grow into being the main traffic magnet.
MediaGuardian article [media.guardian.co.uk]
Will be intersting to see if the agencies involved see a large dip in subscription to their web services. Especially as they have been investing so much in it.
So instead of you visiting site Y and seeing a story from Reuters or AP you will see one written by the site's staff but in many international cases it will just be based on the agency reports. This happens already to some extent. Often you can tell when lots of outlets publish the same error...it is because they cannibalise each other's reports. I won't mention any names but there are a few 'news agencies' who clearly have no reporters on the ground and just sell rewrites.
Why? Well hardly anyone can afford to have dozens or hundreds of journalists all over the world. So for breaking international news they rely on agencies, who tend to have good local contacts and offices in lots of countries. Just the agency model is not suited for online, though it works fine in print.
Areas where it is easier to produce original content (not relying on rewriting agency reports) are tech, entertainment, health, business, etc. Since they often allow more remote coverage. Breaking world news is the hardest I think.
Rewriting is bad since it is another level in the chain for errors, lack of corrections etc.
Where the move might be good is in encouraging more original analysis, opinion pieces etc. But those sort of articles can have lower value than breaking news, since take longer and often get less traffic.
Personally we have seen a drop in traffic to original articles since Google made the switch. We don't use any agencies they publish though so I am not sure why...though we have a direct link between our organic serp positions and our G News ranking...so somewhat cyclic.
For those interested newsknife do a good analysis, for a fee, of what is really happening on G News.
[edited by: FattyB at 4:30 pm (utc) on Oct. 4, 2007]
They will still list agency content even if they run the story, but only if good percentage of the story is altered or added to by the publication...so I read anyway.
Example might be a local paper using a wire story about a local event and colouring it with some local knowledge or reporting.
For me the big things are 1. Google is publishing - competing - with established newspapers etc who are often customers of Google and Google is often a customer of their publications. Also there are other issues that come along with publishing, even if just agency maerial. Also G News would not be popular if said sites had not allowed them to aggregate in the first place and in some cases promoted it. So a stab in the back some might see it as.
2. For agencies involved I can only imagine they are being paid more by GOogle than the sum they will lose from customers abandoning their online wires.
It will maybe cause some problems for some sites over short-medium term. See a readjustment of the relationship between publishers and Google.
At the end of the day Google publishing some wire stories is not going to see the end of online newspapers. What it might do, especially over a few years if online continues to grab more print cash, is see newspapers use agency material less (especially ones with weaker readership loyalty). So in the end some of the agencies might feel a squeeze, which would be bad in terms of journalism...since the more people from different sources on the ground the more likely an accurate picture of events. BUt without knowing revenue % agencies makes onlinevsprint it is impossible to say. I imagine they make most from print and it might not impact them that much.
[edited by: FattyB at 1:05 am (utc) on Oct. 5, 2007]
For agencies involved I can only imagine they are being paid more by GOogle than the sum they will lose from customers abandoning their online wires.
Agencies will not lose their customers because most of the small and medium size newspapers simply don't have the resources to put their staff/reporters in all corners of their country or the world. So they will continue to source their stories from the like of AP even if they don't get the traffic that they were used to get from Google news. Most likely this will squeeze the margins of smaller sites and quite a few of them will end up closing their shop. Basically this is very bad news for the online versions of small newspapers.
[edited by: iThink at 10:38 am (utc) on Oct. 5, 2007]
I agree they might not lose the print side of subscriptions but I think they will lose the web feed side of business. Some local papers will just limit their online content to local, have some staff rewrite the bigger national/international.
What strikes me as odd is APs move in this, are they not a colletive?
Newspapers don't like it when AP sells to the new kids on the block but, by the same token, bringing in revenue from new news outlets helps hold down the share of the tab that must be picked up by the members.
I don't think Google's change will have any major effect on the relationship between newspapers and the agencies. The Okmulgee Sun & Tribune doesn't count on AP stories out of Iraq to attract eyeballs.
AP supplies much more than world news to daily papers. It is their primary source for state capitol coverage, national and regional sports tables, stock market data, weather maps and all kinds of other information that is really more significant to smaller dailies than world news.
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