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Saturday, November 3, 2007

AP Is Dead ... Killed By Blogs & Aggregation

Rich Ord | CEO of iEntry, Inc.

Old media is epitomized by no news source more than the Associated Press. Literally thousands of journalists are employed around the world to bring current event coverage to readers of thousands of newspapers and their online sites.

In the pre-Internet days the AP had little competition beyond a few other news syndicators like Reuters and UPI. The AP's world has now changed forever with the advent of blogs and news
aggregation sites.

Blogs are the new "AP" journalists and aggregation services which started with in 1996 (founded by me!) and which now include Google News, Topix, Techmeme, WebProWire and the new Blogrunner have made the AP much less relevant. There are now tens of thousands of bloggers around the world providing coverage and analysis of current events too! It comes down to why pay when you can get the news for free.

The AP is scrambling to remain needed in this fast paced up to the second blog news world. As reported and analyzed by WebProNews, the AP is suing Moreover for of all things... linking to AP stories. Does the AP not realize that winning this suit would result in less readers of their stories? The old news order is dead, the AP will have to adapt or die.

President and CEO Tom Curley does seem to realize that something has to change. In a speech yesterday Curley remarked:

"We -- the news industry -- have come to that fork in the road. We must take bold, decisive steps to secure the audiences and funding to support journalism's essential role in both our economy and democracy, or find ourselves on an ugly path to obscurity."

Curley goes on to say that "we must understand and embrace the new ways people are consuming content".

Right .... like blogs and news aggregation and linking! Does the AP really get it? I personally don't think so. Tom Curley's entire speech on how news is changing does not even mention blogs or news aggregation. He also seemingly references his linking lawsuit when telling the audience

" We have the power to control how our content flows on the Web. We must use that power if we're to continue to be financially secure and independent enough to speak truth to power."

The Associated Press model of news is dead ... dead as can be. It is a business model that pays reporters to travel and write stories and then syndicate those stories to traditional news organizations. This model cannot compete with bloggers who write for free and often live where the news is. Additionally these bloggers are often experts, not just reporters looking in. News is now being reported by the news makers themselves who blog about it and then analyzed by hundreds of experts who themselves blog.

Aggregations sites have made the need for news syndicators like the AP obsolete. Bloggers themselves, by linking to related stories have also become content syndicators.

The AP's relevance has disappeared. The AP's business model has evaporated. The AP is dead, killed by blogs and news aggregation.

Mozilla's Devilish Deal With Google
David A. Utter | Staff Writer

Two aspects of Mozilla's close ties with Google over development of the Firefox browser have Chris Soghoian concerned about a conflict of interest in play.

People who adopt Firefox as a replacement for Microsoft's Internet Explorer think they are turning aside a monopolist in favor of a more secure and open browsing alternative. It may not be as open as we think.

I missed a little bit of semantic nuance back in May, when Mozilla's Asa Dotzler commented on my speculation that Mozilla could be pressured via Google by a company like Verizon. As Asa
commented, and I've emphasized in bold:

"Can Google (or any one, for that matter) effectively pressure Mozilla to change course on a Mozilla Labs project that they're not directly involved with? Absolutely not."

Now look at the context Soghoian brings to the Mozilla and Google topic, and how Dotzler's choice of words appear to fit five months later.

"The close relationship between Google and Mozilla leads to a number of serious conflicts of interest. The end result is that users' online privacy and security take a backseat to the protection of Google's revenue streams," Soghoian wrote at CNet.

One conflict of interest comes in the form of ad blocking, the other in phishing toolbars. Soghoian wondered why Firefox's developers haven't integrated two of the most popular add-ons for
the browser, AdBlock Plus (and the Filterset G Updater), and Customize Google.

"Even if Mozilla were contractually free to include anti-Google- tracking features, it would not be a wise move, business-wise. After all, it is not too smart to anger the company that provides
more than 85 percent of your financing," said Soghoian.

His phishing assessment shows an even greater concern for Firefox users. A documented flaw in, as found by well-known security researcher RSnake, has been dismissed by Google as a feature, not a bug.

It's funny when Jimmy Neutron calls his robotic dog Goddard's ability to explode a feature instead of a bug. On the Internet, the joke isn't quite as laugh-inducing.

Soghoian charged, based on RSnake's experience and findings, that no anti-phishing product will enter the market with a Google domain on a blacklist. Google domains won't be placed
in the blacklist it maintains for Firefox, either.

The problem comes not just from the revenue stream Google provides to Firefox, most recently $56 million in 2006. Soghoian noted how Googlers spend a lot of time building
Firefox, including lead developer Ben Goodger, a Google
software engineer.

Google contributes time, people, and money, the three essential parts of any project. Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker has claimed Mozilla can quit Google any time it wants.

If they really want to keep the trust of Firefox users, it may be time for a divorce. It won't be as easy as driving through a quickie divorce shop in Reno, but for the long term good of the
project it may be necessary.

Unless, of course, they really can't leave $56 million and scads of talented Googler developer time on the table.