Unlike The AP, It Looks Like Reuters Recognizes The Future

from the worth-the-read dept

About a year and a half ago, we wrote about a talk given by the CEO of the Associated Press, Tom Curley, supposedly about the future of journalism. It was a very strange speech. It talked about recognizing how times were changing and how the AP could no longer be a “gatekeeper.” And… then spent a large portion talking about how the AP was going to be a gatekeeper, and was going to force other sites to stop quoting its content without paying. Since then, of course, the AP has backed up those contradictory words with its ridiculous war against aggregator sites.

What’s surprised me, however, is that competing “wire” services haven’t stepped into the breach. It seems like a wide open opportunity for Reuters to step up and say “we want to work with everyone — and we’re not going to freak out if you send us traffic.” While it hasn’t gone that far, a talk given by Reuters’ Editor in Chief, David Schlesinger, to the International Olympics Committee Press Commission on rethinking journalism suggests Reuters recognizes the future a lot more clearly than the AP, and is looking to embrace it fully, rather than block it, like the AP.

The whole thing is absolutely worth reading — especially the bits where he knocks the IOC for its ridiculous restrictions on both athletes and the press on how they can report. For example, apparently the IOC got mad at Schlesinger himself because he took some photos and posted them to his blog. Since he was only accredited as a reporter, not a photographer, the IOC demanded he remove the photos. Here are a few choice snippets. At the beginning he notes just how much people are using social networks to communicate these days, and then he says:

But the point, I hope, is clear.
The old means of control don’t work.
The old categories don’t work.
The old ways of thinking won’t work.
We all need to come to terms with that.

Fundamentally, the old media won’t control news dissemination in the future. And organisations can’t control access using old forms of accreditation any more.

Those statements mean what they say and not necessarily more.

I am not arguing that newspapers and magazines and news services will die.
No, just that they must change.

He goes on to talk about how silly it is to think of “accreditation” and defining who is and who is not a journalist by pointing out that everyone is a journalist in some way. This isn’t necessarily the “citizen journalism” trumpeted by some pundits, but a recognition that social networks make everyone the journalist of their own lives:

To say they can blog as long as it isn’t journalistic, misses the point.

To a 23 year-old athlete, used to putting out a “news feed” of every detail of her personal life and training on various social media platforms, there simply isn’t a distinction.

Her life IS a news feed. Her blog IS a publishing platform. Her Facebook page IS the daily newspaper of her life.

And none of these things is really private. They can get indexed by Google; they get searched; they can be public to the world with a potential circulation of every single user of the internet.

Take this scenario: I will easily aggregate my imaginary athlete’s comments and thoughts on winning or losing or on the standard of judging with tweets giving the audience perspective from various parts of the stadium. I’ll then add that in with mobile phone camera pictures and video posted on Flickr and youtube.

Well, my friends, who really needs the rightsholders, AP or Reuters if you can do that?

And this is the point where traditionalists freak out and talk about putting up special walls. But, Schlesinger seems to recognize both how that’s silly, and how the real response is to not freak out about the threat, but to embrace the opportunity:

Some may be frightened of the picture I paint. Some may think I exaggerate. I actually get energised.

The only question I ask is: So what can we do to survive, or more fundamentally, to stay relevant?

I think the only path is to embrace the change and embrace the new. Longing for the ways of the past will not work.

We in the traditional media and you in the IOC must concentrate our efforts on defining and developing that which really adds value.

That means understanding what really can be exclusive and what really is insightful. It means truly exploiting real expertise.

It means, to my earlier point, using all the multimedia tools available and all the smart multimedia journalists to provide a package so much stronger than any one individual strand.

It means working with the mobile phone and digital camera and social media-enabled public and not against them.

Working against them would be crazy. Could you imagine gun toting guards trying to confiscate every phone off every spectator? That would become the story of the Games and it would ultimately fail, anyhow.
No, working with them is the answer.

Inspire them, and encourage them to do things that will enhance the Olympic spirit and actually improve the bottom line.

And, finally, he notes how silly it is to think that professional journalists are somehow above everyone else:

We have spent countless decades enveloping our activities in the cloak of professional mystery.

That era is over.

We must devote the time now to demystifying what we do, and working in concert with those who would seem to be a threat to the old order.

Remember that the world ultimately is a reciprocal place.

Treat people with respect and as partners, and they will partner with you.
Treat people as a threat or as criminals, and they will threaten your institution and ultimately bring it down.
This path doesn’t have to be scary.

That last bit applies to so many industries today. It’s great to see that, at least via these words, it looks like Reuters is really looking to embrace what the technology allows, rather than pulling an AP and pretending it can somehow turn back the clock.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: associated press, reuters

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Comments on “Unlike The AP, It Looks Like Reuters Recognizes The Future”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Jim (profile) says:

Wow, only WOW

I could requote so many lines as you have. I mean, doesn’t the government (banks) run the “media” as it stands? What we are used to being the “news”?

That’s gone with Real Time.. How can the GOV dismiss something that millions have seen and is live. They have no time to get rid of that information..

CNN, Fox, any news site now is has less meaning to me…

refe (profile) says:

Great quote

“Treat people with respect and as partners, and they will partner with you.
Treat people as a threat or as criminals, and they will threaten your institution and ultimately bring it down.
This path doesn’t have to be scary.”

I wish more people would get this, especially in the music industry. Instead they pull out a big gun to defend the old system. The consumer responds by pulling out a bigger one, and around we go.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“I got the same reaction in university with beer – amazing how many friends you have when you give away lots of free beer.”

That’s a funny analogy, being as how my fraternity used free beer to make money on other things, AKA jello shots, frat tshirts, house cups, etc.

Just cuz you’re frat/house/whatever didn’t think of it, don’t shit on MY christmas.

Bill Dodder says:

Add All Headline News to the good guys list

About 4-5 months ago I quoted too much from one of AHNs articles.. whole paragraphs.

Out of the blue I got a call from AHN, they explained that what I took was too much and would I please paraphrase instead. No threats, no lawsuit threat.. just one person talking to another.


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