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.