It’s Getting Personal

Two of the world’s biggest news gathering organizations have recently announced plans to deliver news in new and varied formats — and in one case to go directly to consumers. This suggests the mass media “get it” and are trying to evolve, an effort that bears not only on their survival but on the prospects for Mini Media publishers.

Paid Content pointed me to a speech last week by Associated Press President Thomas Curley and another talk this week by Reuters CEO Tom Glocer.

Curley spoke to the Virginia Press Association. According to a report in the Hampton Roads Daily Press, the AP chief said “instead of offering news in its traditional list format … (AP) would start searchable Web-based databases that would tell subscribers (i.e. newspapers, radio and TV stations) whether stories are available, along with video, audio, graphics and photos.”

“If we don’t make it available, someone else will,” Curley said. “We’re concentrating on what it is you need and what you want to serve your readers.” The story says (unspecified) prices to member news outlets won’t change for a year.

By way of contrast the Financial Times reports that Reuters plans “to supply news and information to retail consumers on mobile phones, iPods and other new technology platforms.”

The FT provided this tease of Glocer’s speech: “If the 19th century was the age of the newspaper and the 20th century the age of radio and television, this century will be defined as the age of media personalization. The news you want, when you want it. The concept is simple – forget the old media that decided what was news and when and how you would consume it. Personalization is all about supplying news to the individual.”

It sounds like Reuters which, as the FT says, has “traditionally sold its news services … to other news and media organizations” plans to disintermediate its former media subscribers. This may not be terribly painful because Reuters says “more than 90% of our revenue derives from our financial services business.”

The Associated Press, on the other hand, is a cooperative owned by its members — the leading U.S. media. From Curley’s remarks and the internal politics of the AP, it would not appear that it will try to end run its customers — who are also its owners.

Incumbent media are trying to move as far and as fast as their circumstances allow. Aspiring new media publishers will obviously have to make bigger and more daring leaps.

Tom Abate
Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media