by Uncle Alan
A Reuters story recently quoted Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, who said, “From the very beginning this has seemed almost as if it’s a news wire coming from everywhere around the world …. I think a Twitter News Service would be something that would be very open and shared with many different news organizations around the world.”
Naturally, word of this idea, spoken publicly, spread quickly. Soon, reports were flying all over that a Twittter news service was eminent.
However, TechCrunch quickly followed up with a report on some tweets from Sean Garrett, the communications guy at Twitter. According to TechCrunch, Sean said Stone was “just being imaginative” and there are no real plans for a “Twitter news service.”
I personally hope there is a Twitter News Service of some kind. And soon. The idea’s especially appealing to me. I’ve been a proponent of syndicating content as long as I can remember — 30 years or more. It’s a benefit to the content creators and to the publishers who get it into the hands of grateful readers.
The idea of a news wire is as old as the hills, bringing up in my aging mind the days of newsrooms filled with cigar-smoking reporters with bottles of gin hidden in their desk drawers, jumping up and clawing their way into the teletype machine room to be first to grab the next story off the wire every time it chatters itself awake.
That’s probably why I built my first hugely successful business, BBS Press Service, around the concept. I mean — come on. Cigars? Gin? Not all that important. But a crack at seeing a hot news story first? That should be any social publisher’s dream situation.
But, what worked in those days works considerably differently today. News feeds are everywhere online. Not only is the cigar and hidden bottle of gin are no longer a requirement of the trade. Neither is the that cool noisy teletype machine.
As I pointed out in Build Your Own Custom News Wire, right here in the Portal, you can easily put together your own personal super-powerful press service feed with Yahoo Pipes in about an hour or so. Free of charge.
With a bit more work and patience, you can “hone” the feed down to an extremely laser-sharp targeted focus and then literally pour it automatically into a blog. Also free of charge.
Get AP Wire Service to do that for ya!
Twitter’s always been an exceptional source of info for your online publications, too. WordPress plugins make it easy to tap the Twitter stream and deliver a specialized version of the feed to your visitors in a number of online formats.
Still, I find it exciting to think a customizable Twitter news feed might one day be available. I don’t believe the “media guy” for a minute. He’s just following up to cover over a statement that was, at its worst, not ready for release yet — if you ask me.
Besides, Stone never said Twitter was going to provide the service themselves. He specifically pointed to the possibility of Twitter forming relationships with other news services, to provide customized portions of the stream. Presumably, the relationships would go both ways, adding even more powerful info and sources to the Twitter stream.
It’s still difficult for me to see how this could be monetized – unless Twitter were to launch an AP-like service and charge for access to the stream. I’d still gladly pay, if they include bloggers and smaller online publishers with affordable access, especially if it was customized to fit my audience’s tastes and information needs.
It seems evident to me that, whenever major news breaks these days, Twitter is the first place you see indications something’s going on. So much so that major news corporations are now tapping the stream in their own ways, to add to their own reporting – especially during those crucial early moments, right after something major has taken place and before the wire services have had time to investigate, put together their stories and get their news out.
Nearly two and a half years ago, Stone expressed similar sentiments on the Twitter blog, following an earthquake near Los Angeles. “Many news agencies get their feed from a news wire service such as the Associated Press,” he said. “’Strong quake shakes Southern California’ was pushed out by AP about 9 minutes after people began Twittering primary accounts from their homes, businesses, doctor’s appointments, or wherever they were when the quake struck. Whether it’s updates from best friends, Internet pals, companies, brands, or breaking world events, the real-time aspect of sending and receiving Twitter updates continues to motivate our work.”
The vision’s clearly been there all along. Especially once Twitter got past the “getting up to get another beer – this movie sucks” stage, if you know what I mean.
The ability to tap Twitter’s more than 160 million users, all acting as live on-the-scenes reporters, feeding back news and opinion and reactions and more, 24/7 is inarguably attractive.
It just has to be tailored to smaller media, too. Emerging media would gladly pay if it were a fee-based service, based upon the size of their reach. Major corporate publications, with large circulations, whether online or off, would pay more. Smaller publishers would also pay more as they grow.
The offline wire service industry has followed this model for decades. I know ASCAP and other content licensing services charge on a sliding scale, too.
Either way, whether there ever is a Twitter News Network or not, we can do it ourselves. All we have to do is get on Yahoo Pipes, find unique interesting information feeds from online sources all over, filter them to specific niche criteria, then spit them back out and make them available to our own growing audiences.
Free of charge.
I’m going to start pulling together lists of feeds and sources of great feeds here in the Portal soon. Until then – have a happy Thanksgiving, if you’re in the United States and please join with us in celebrating the concept of gratitude and help spread it the world over.