Syndication Hits the Newspaper Business


I’ve blogged about how syndication is the future for news sites like SQLServerPedia and for magazines like GestaltIT, and now it’s time to talk newspapers.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is doing syndication and aggregation right on their home page.  Blog site The Stranger reports that the PI has started running headlines that point straight out to other sites like blogs.  They followed up with another story on the SeattlePI that confirms it.

We’ve seen newspapers struggling financially lately: some Michigan papers have stopped printing 7 days a week, and only produce printed versions certain days of the week.  They’re having a tough time competing with the internet news sites.  Now, the SeattlePI has realized that they’re having a tough time competing with blogs too, and they’ve decided to turn the site into a central gateway instead.

There’s another industry with this same business model, although we don’t usually think of it as an industry.

Cupid and Psyche - St Petersburg Russia
Cupid and Psyche - St Petersburg Russia

Bloggers and Syndication Is Like Artists and Museums

When you go to a museum, you’re seeing a limited amount of artworks.  You might see one or two pieces by an artist, but not all of their work.  If you find one of their pieces amazing, you might write down that artist’s name and learn more about their work.  You might go to the museum bookstore and buy a book about that particular artist.

The museum’s curators spend their days viewing art and selecting pieces that will be placed in the museum.  They try to put pieces together that will have a flow, that are beautifully made, and that tell a good story.  This is the approach the SeattlePI is taking: their editors are curating posts from lots of blogs that when taken together, form a newspaper.

Each artist isn’t confined to using a single museum: they can produce as much work as they want, and get that art in as many museums and galleries as possible.  After all, artists need to eat!  Some pieces are done on commission for clients, and some are done just for the passion of it.  Sounds like bloggers, doesn’t it?

Museums by themselves don’t make money – they rely on sponsors.  When you enter a museum, you see some ads for the exhibit’s sponsor and the museum’s overall sponsors.  Fortunately, museums keep it pretty subtle, but there’s no such guarantee in online syndication sites.  I expect that some of them will look pretty ugly.

I believe that we’re handling the syndication process at SQLServerPedia the same way I’d approach museum curation.  When someone wants to learn about art, they go to a good museum.  When they want to learn about Microsoft SQL Server, I want them to come to SQLServerPedia, see our artists – I mean, uh, bloggers – and say, “Wow!  That person’s a great writer!  I want to go to their blog and learn more about them, get more of their work, and talk to them about what they’re doing.”  That’s my vision of success with syndication.

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • I guess the next few years we really are going to see a lot of change in media in general. It'll be interesting to see if those resiting change will survive.

  • The pony problem I have with a newspaper or news organization linking to outside blogs, is that people will think that the blog post has gone through the same verification process that traditional news outlets typically do for stories they publish. Now if they are doing this with the blogs they link to , great, if not, I'd be concerned. There is way too much inaccurate information on the internet. I may even have posted some of it.

    • That raises an interesting question: do you think the verification process will become more lax for newspapers? If the home page is a mix of blogs and officially reported stories, I gotta think they'd be tempted to loosen up on the editing process to save money in order to compete with outside bloggers. Good newspapers wouldn't, but they're not all good.


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