Reuters gets it

Tom Glocer, CEO of Reuters, is giving a keynote at the Online Publishers Association. It’s good enough to live-blog.

Glocer said a year ago, the focus of Reuters was on “the consumer as editor,” with tools such as RSS to allow consumers to consume differently. Now, it has gone far beyond that:

They’re consuming, they’re creating, they’re sharing, and they’re publishing themselves. So the consumer wants to not only run the printing preess, the consumer wants to set the Linotype as well….

Our industry is facing a profound challenge from home-created content…. If we create the right crossroads, provide the consumers with the appropriate tools… we can harnass what otherwise from the outside would look like a punk revolution….

He says that media historians will see the acquisition of MySpace by News Corp as a “turning point…. Sites like Myspace are rebuilding our world” because they provide a means for anyone who has anything to share to do so. “What we are seeing today is an almost continuing talent show.”

“Technology is creating a kind of weird, hybrid world” of mashups, he says. He recognizes a “demand for this new kind of creativity” and there is also an advertising demand for it.

: What’s great about Glocer’s talk is not only that he gets it but he gives us respect. Standing in London, he compares bloggers to the great diarists. He says that people will turn to the Rafats of the world to interpret news. He says that bloggers were important in coverage of the last U.S. election. He says that citizen journalism has a long tradition, comparing citizens’ reports of 7/7 with a survivor’s account of the Titantic crash.

What has really changed is the nature of publishing, a “Gutenbergian transformation” that involves both tools and distribution.

“If the user wants to be both author and editor, and technology is increasingly enabling this, what will be the role of the media company…?” He has three answers: Media companies will be a “seeder of clouds.” Nice analogy. I call it a magnet and would recommend that to him for he says that just creating content is not enough; they must attract the people. The second role is to be a “provider of tools… We need to produce open standards and interoperability to allow” disparate people to create content of disparate types. “Let’s not make the same mistakes newspapers did with the protectionist online strategies that characterized Internet 1.” By that he means not recreating the old content in the new medium. The third role, he says, is that media companies will be “filter and editor.” He says that “the good stuff will rise to the top” online.

: Glocer uses the Tsunami and the Concorde crash to show how citizen journalists and professional journalists together tell the story more quickly and completely. “There’s no monopoly on being in the right place at the right time.”

“We can’t be a chokehold in a desparate effort to close the digital pipe,” Glocer says, arguing that media companies must not try to protect what they have by restricting those who come next.

: Speaking to fellow media companies, he concludes: “We are the go-between providing the structure and support… between the information provider and the consumer, even if today they are the very same person.” He tells them that trust is critical and so he argues that in a world with so much information, “the consumer gravitates to trustworthy brands.”

He asks what this means for Google and China and answers the question by not answering it: “Reputation is hard-won and easily lost.”

And he urges these media companies to understand and encourage citizen media.

: I get up to ask a question about copyright and remixing: He understands the value of being part of the converstation, part of the remix and so where does he think the line is in use of his material? He says that in the U.S. there is a fairly clear line in fair use but there is a question about objectionable use. He says content creators should have the right to set appropriate use; he’s endorsing Creative Commons (-like) licenses. He says that Reuters puts its RSS feeds out in the hope that bloggers will use them and include them in the conversation and if we quote a story they’re happy.

Rich Karlgaard, the publisher of Forbes, who’s on the stage with Glocer, says he now reads Real Clear Politics and thus reads the sources of the opinions there less and he asks, “Are these guys friends or foes?” Glocer says they could be a foe to newspapers but they are a friend to readers.

In a related question, Karlgaard — looking for the dark side of the cloud still — asks whether bloggers et al are “a threat more in the loss of readers or the loss of revenue.” Glocer answers revenue and he says that bloggers are helping media find a new and younger audience. I think that’s also the right answer to the question about aggregators.

: LATER: Karlgaard leaves a comment emphasizing that he’s not a gloomy protectionist; he was just being a moderator.

  • Wonder when they’re going to allow their employees to be citizen journalists, too; I know two prominent bloggers for high traffic blogs who are Reuters employees and have been told point-blank that they will be fired if they are discovered blogging (even outside the topics they cover for Reuters).

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  • afsvfan

    if a blogger and reuters have the same video of a breaking news story .
    which one is worth more ?

  • Rich Karlgaard

    Jeff —

    I’m not a dark cloud guy, or a protectionist! I love the explosion of blogs, citizen journalism, aggragators, etc. . . . and agree with you that Tom Glocer gave an enlightened presentation. But as a moderator, my role was to provoke Tom and drill down to the questions that are on the minds of the audience.

    Anyway, good to see you in London.


  • Nice post. Before reading the comment that Reuters doesn’t allow employees to blog I would have said that they do get it. It would be nice to see the major newspapers and journals jump on the bandwagon and offer more of blog oriented presentation in their online editions in which readers could voice an opinion to a published article by using comments or trackbacks.

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  • tom glocer

    Reuters is in the process of adopting a formal policy on the right of our employees to blog. We do not have a ban in place, but we treat it similarly to other potential conflicts like writing a book on company time. Employees need to speak to their managers about their blogging activities, so for example, the auto industry correspondent should not be blogging about Ford or GM if it might be seen as influencing his or her ability to cover the industry objectively

  • Brian Theodore

    Not heavily advertised, but Reuters does have a set of blogs that journalists post to and allow comments to… btw, for full disclosure I work for Reuters, but not as a journalist.

  • Hey Jeff,

    I guess Reuters didn’t get the news from the Trib, huh?


  • Help, I’m too “newbie” to do the xhtml right but thanks, J. Jarvis, for blogging this from the event. I have photos the London Reuters building and the new digital billboards — always on, always changing — with comments from you and links back to your site:

    Thought you might enjoy the photos. You’re right up front w/ the changes — thanks for sharing and reporting.

    Cheerio — Hattie
    new blog focusing on new media and motherhood (its a final project for media studies grad. class)…

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  • Sites like Myspace are rebuilding our world because they provide a means for anyone who has anything to share to do so.

    Good post. I think you may be interested in my site, Crisscross. We are the first major news site to directly apply social networking to news. We believe that social networking plays to the major strength of the Internet: person-to-person communication. In the same way that CNN used the strengths of the cable network to grow, news companies have to play to the strengths of the new medium.

    Currently we use the social network to let user’s track their goals and favorites. We can then use this information to enhance the news presentation. Readers who have a goal of “go to Japan” can be given Japan news, readers whose favorite music is pop can be dircted to news about Madonna and so on.

    I am confident that old media can adapt to the strengths of new media, but in the meantime there are opportunities for smaller companies like ours to compete.

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  • If there are Reuters Journalists out there who want to blog ‘publicly’ then let me know. I run Reuters Newsblogs (that Brian mentioned above) and I can create you account and take you through how to publish etc. Normal Reuters rules apply – fact based reporting, two-pairs of eyes, attribution to sources etc.

  • “There’s no monopoly on being in the right place at the right time.”

    It is the monopoly of money.
    Being in the right place at the right time has a cost that the journalist “in fieri” couldn,t afford.
    He can be a better writer, a better commenter, but till now he was not able to express himself.

    What Media will face in the near future is competition.
    From the small man of the road.
    Because hardware and broadcasting means have change to a point that whoever can be a writer and an editor.
    Of course he also needs some brain.
    It will be the competiton of brains more than the competition of means.

    This capitalistic society will have to revaluate the human part and the skill.
    A big newspaper could in theory loose the game against a one man journalist.
    At the end of the day this small man could win for the simple reason he does something he likes to do, he wants to do, he believes in.
    Which is something many journalists do not have any more.
    That is the freedom to say what they really think and not what they think the reader would like to read, or what is convenient that the reader reads.
    Which is something that once they used to call truth and meant truth.

    Yes the Internet is exactly that, the Revolution of our generation.
    It will take some time, but it will be.

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  • Were do i find some new MS layouts?


  • Which is something many journalists do not have any more.
    That is the freedom to say what they really think and not what they think the reader would like to read, or what is convenient that the reader reads.

  • Yes the Internet is exactly that, the Revolution of our generation.
    It will take some time, but it will be.

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