Over the past 160 years Reuters has built a business syndicating content to newspapers and magazines. They've adapted with the times to offer content online, and on Tuesday this organization adapted to the reality of the web.
Reuters announced on Tuesday that it was launching a new syndication offer. Web publishers can now license up to ten pieces of Reuters content (including pictures, video, and text) each month - for free.
The content is available through the Reuters Open Media Express website, and can be hosted on a website for up to 90 days. After that it will have to be removed. The offer doesn't include everything distributed by Reuters (the FAQ mentions "a selection of the best stories, photos, and video") but it does say that I can download an unlimited number of articles contributed by Reuters partners.
I've looked over the service, and I am seriously considering using the occasional Reuters article in the same manner that I intended to use bot-written articles: as a stub to improve upon. However, the FAQ says that I have only limited options to edit the articles, and that makes them far less appealing (the expiry is also a turn off).
Reuters is very adequate as a news source, but I think I can use my expertise to improve upon their work. Luckily for me, the rules say that I can edit for length, and I choose to interpret that as meaning that I can tack additional text on to the end.
Dave Zatz of Zatz Not Funny is also testing this service, and he pointed me to a similar but less attractive offer from The Guardian. That required a WP plugin, and gave The Guardian far more control of our sites than Dave or I would like.
Let's see how this plays out.
This is an interesting move for Reuters, and while Poynters may describe it as a "metered content system" I would think that it would be better to use the colloquial term: freemium.
Yes, the McDonalds of the news industry is now giving away free samples. I was surprised they would bother; everyone knows about Reuters and its quality, and we know where to find it. I wouldn't think they would need to draw in web publishers with a freemium offer, but I guess they see it otherwise.
image by Maik Meid