I’ve just finished listening to a recent story on the ABC’s Background Briefing about who owns the news and it makes for interesting listening. At the World Media Summit, of over 400 media publishers and editors, in China yesterday, News Corporation chief, Rupert Murdoch, repeated his call for news organisations to charge for content on the Internet. He warned that news organisations and content creators must change otherwise search engines and other aggregators would eat all their lunch. He said that many Internet users believed that once they’d paid their ISP for access, they had purchased access to a content buffet. This message was echoed by the boss of the Associated Press, Tom Curley.
The Background Briefing piece interested me by pointing out that newspapers have been under threat since the 1930s with the advent of broadcast radio. Radio presenters were able to read breaking stories from the newspapers over the air before the public could purchase the papers, and this upset the publishers. Journalists, of the newspaper variety, cast aspersions on radio journalists, saying they weren’t in the same league as them. Naturally, the same occurred with the advent of television and television journalists. Over the years, the Associated Press (AP) has stood up for the commercial interests of publishers. In 1918 they won a case against the International News Service, who was found to have ‘copied’ AP’s work, claiming it as their own, and they’re likely to cite this precedent sometime soon. Today, AP is trialling a new strategy to prevent sites from copying and reusing its material. When it distributes content, it will be wrapped in a container that includes a tracking beacon that will allow central monitoring of users who view that piece of content. It’ll be fascinating to watch its progress.
If you’ve got a spare 40 minutes, I can highly recommend the episode.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.